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LIST OF VOLUMES 

OF THE 

NATURALIST'S LIBRARY, 

IN THE ORDER IN WHICH THEY WERE PUBLISHED. 



I. HUMMING-BIRDS, Thirty-sLx Coloured Plates ; 

with Portrait and Memoir of Linn^us. 
II. MONKEYS, Thirty-two Coloured Plates; with 
Portrait and Memoir of Buffon. 

III. HUMMING-BIRDS, Thirty-two Coloured Plates ; 

Tvith Portrait and Memoir of Pennant. 

IV. LIONS, TIGERS, &c., Thirty-eight Coloured 

Plates ; with Portrait and Memoir of Cuvier. 
V. PEACOCKS, PHEASANTS, TURKEYS, &c.. 
Thirty Coloured Plates, mth Portrait and Me- 
moir of Aristotle. 

VI. BIRDS OF THE GAME KIND, Thirty-two 
Colom-ed Plates ; with Portrait and Memoir of 
Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. 
VII. FISHES OF THE PERCH GENUS, &c., 
Thirty-two Coloured Plates ; with Portrait and 
Memoir of Sir Joseph Banks. 
VIII. COLEOPTEROUS INSECTS, (Beetles,) Thirty- 
two Coloured Plates ; with Portrait and Memoir 
of Ray. 

IX. COLUMBID^, (Pigeons.) Thirty-two Coloured 
Plates ; with Portrait and Memoir of Pliny, 
X. BRITISH DIURNAL LEPIDOPTERA, (But- 
terflies,) Thirty-six Coloured Plates ; with Por- 
trait and Memoir of Werner. 

XI. RUMINATING ANIMALS ; containing Deer, 
Antelopes, Camels, 6:c., Thirty-five Coloured 
Plates ; with Portrait and Memoir of Camper. 
XII. RUMINATING ANIMALS ; containing Goats, 
Sheep, Wild and Domestic Cattle, &c. &c.. 
Thirty-three Coloured Plates ; with Portrait and 
Memoir of John Hunter. 



LIST OF VOLUMES. 

XIII. PACHIDERMATA, or Thick-Skinned Quauru- 

peds; consisting of Elephants, Rhinoceroses, 
Tapirs, &c. &c,, on Thirty-one Coloured Plates ; 
with Portrait and Memoir of Sir Hans Sloane. 

XIV. BRITISH NOCTURNAL LEPIDOPTERA, 

(Moths, Sphinxes, &c.,) Thirty-two Coloured 
Plates; with Portrait and Memoir of Madam 
Merian. 
XV. PARROTS, Thirty-two Coloured Plates; with Por- 
trait and Memoir of Bewick. 
XVI. WHALES, Thirty-two Coloured Plates ; with Por- 
trait and Memoir of Lacepede. 
XVII. BIRDS OF WESTERN AFRICA, Thirty-four 
Coloured Plates ; with Portrait and Memoir of 

XVIII. FOREIGN BUTTERFLIES, Thirty-three Co- 
loured Plates : with Portrait and Memoir of La- 
marck. 
XIX. BIRDS OF WESTERN AFRICA, Vol. IL, 
Thirty-four Coloured Plates ; with Portrait and 
Memoir of Le Vaillant, 
XX. BIRDS OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRE- 
LAND, Thirty-six Coloured Plates; with Por- 
trait and Memoir of Sir Robert Sibbald. 
XXI. FLYCATCHERS ; their Natural Arrangement and 
Relations, Thirty-three Coloured Plates ; with 
Portrait and Memoir of Baron Haller. 

XXII. A HISTORY OF BRITISH QUADRUPEDS, 
Thirty-six Coloured Plates ; with Portrait and 
Memoir of Ulysses Aldrovandi. 

XXIII. AMPHIBIOUS CARNIVORA ; including the 

Walrus and Seals, and the Herbivorus Ceta- 
CEA, Mermaids, &c.. Thirty- three Coloured Plates ; 
\^^th Portrait and Memoir of Francois Peron. 

XXIV. BIRDS OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRE- 

LAND, Thirty-two Coloured Plates ; with Por- 
trait and Memoir of William Smellie. 
XXV. DOGS, Thirty-three Coloured Plates; with Por- 
trait and Memoir of Pallas. 
XXVI. HONEY-BEE, Thirty-six Coloured Plates ; with 
Portrait and Memoir of Huber. 




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THE 

NATURALIST'S LIBRARY. 

CONDUCTED BY 

SIR WILLIAM JARDINE, Bart., 

F.R.S.E., F.L.S., &c. &c. 

ENTOMOLOGY. 
VOL. VL 

BEES. 



COMPREHENDING THE USES AND ECONOMICAL 
MANAGEMENT OF THE 

HONEY-BEE 

OF BRITAIN AND OTHER COUNTRIES, TOGETHER WITH 
DESCRIPTIONS OF THE KNOWN WILD SPECIES. 



EDINBURGH : 

W. H. LIZARS, 3, ST. JAMES' SQUARE ; 

S. HIGHLEY, 32, FLEET STREET, LONDON; AND 

W. CURRY, JUN. & CO. LONDON. 

1840. 



THE 



NATURAL HISTORY 



OP 



BEES. 



COMPREHENDINQ THE USES AND ECONOMICAL MANAGEMENT 
OF THE BRITISH AND FOREIGN 

HONEY-BEE; 

TOGETHER WITH THE KNOWN WILD SPECIES, 



ILLUSTRATED BY THIRTY-SIX PLATES COLOURED FROM NATURE, 
WITH PORTRAIT AND MEMOIR OF HUBER. 



EDINBURGH : 

W. H. LIZARS, 3, ST. JAMES' SQUARE; 

S. HIGHLEY, 32, FLEET STREET, LONDON; AND 

W CURRY, JUN. & CO. DUBLIN. 

1840. 












v.^ 



ADVERTISEMENT 
FROM THE PUBLISHER. 



From the commencement of this Work it has been 
our uniform anxiety to adorn it with as much of 
pictorial beauty and interest as possible, and the pre- 
sentf although, at first appearance, embracing a 
subject not very favourable for such displays, will, 
we trust, be esteemed as not the least attractive 
in this respect, — while the absorbing interest of its 
literary details are probably second to none of the 
series. For the latter we are indebted to a rever- 
end friend well known as one of the keenest ob- 
servers, and most successful cultivators of the com- 
munity of the tiny beings which form the subject 
before us. To our friend Mr. Duncan, the con- 
tributor of our Entomological volumes, the best 
acknowledgments are due for the extension of the 
subject in his interesting details of the Foreign and 



VI ADVERTISEMENT. 

Wild species ; and for the admirable manner in 
wliich he has conducted the volume through the 
press. He has availed himself of the invaluable 
assistance of Mr. Westwood for drawings and descrip- 
tions of various figures, which now, in some cases, 
appear before the public for the first time. Upon the 
whole, we hope it will be found that the present 
is an interesting volume in all its details; and, 
though last, not least in its attractions, in our having 
been enabled to enrich it with the only portrait of 
Huber known to have been published ; and for which 
we are indebted to the Sister of the amiable person 
represented. 

Our next will be the second volume on the Dog, 
by Colonel H. Smith, and will contain an account 
of the domestic races and varieties, together with 
the different species of the Fox and Hyaena. 



3, St. James' Square, 
Edinburgh, 1840. 



CONTENTS. 





Page 


Memoir of Hubkr, . . . . 


17 


Introduction, . . . . . 


27 


Anatomy of the Honey-Bec, 


31 


The Senses of the Bees, . 


44 


Sight, 


44 


Feeling or Touch, . 


46 


Taste, .... 


48 


Hearing, .... 


51 


Smelling, .... 


55 


Functions of the Inmates of a Hive, 


GO 


Functions of the Queen, 


60 


Functions of the Worker-Bee, . 


65 


Functions of the Male or Drone, 


70 


The Impregnation of the Queen-Bee, . 


73 


Retarded Impregnation, . 


74 


Of the Brood, . 


76 


The Conversion of the Larva of a Worker into 


a Queen, 88 


The Architecture of Bees, 


99 


The diiferent Substances found in a Hive, r 


iz. Honey, 


Wax, Farina, and Propolis, 


113 


The Formation of Swarms, 


134 


The Diseases and Enemies of Bees, 


147 


Enemies of Bees, 


149 


Practical Management, . 


157 


The Apiary, 


157 


Hives, .... 


166 


Straw Hives, 


167 


Wildman's Storied Straw Hive, 


168 



Vlll 



CONTENTS. 



Grecian Hive, 

Lombard's Hive, 

Bee-Boxes, . 

Huber's Hive, 

Single-comb Hive, 
On the Management of Bees in Spring, 
the Swa: 



L'ming Season, 



Second Swamis, . 

Third Swarms, 

Virgin Sw^arms, . 

Artificial Swarais, 

Deprivation and Transportation, 

General Honey-Harvest, 

Management of Bees during Winter, 

Humble-Bees, . 

Common Humble-Bee {Bombus Terrestris), Plate XIV. 

Lapidary or Red-tailed Bee {^Borrihus Lapidanus), Plate 

XVI. Figs. 1. 2 

Moss or Carder Bee {Bombus Muscormn), Plate XVI. 

Fig. 3 

Donovan's Humble-Bee {Bombus Donovanellus), Plate 

XVII. Fig. 1 

Harris' Humble-Bee {Bombus Harrisellus), PI. XVIII. 

Fig.l 

Bombus Grandis. Plate XVII. Fig. 2. 
Apathus Vestalis. Plate XVIII. Fig. 2. . 
Apathus Rupestris. Plate XVIII. Fig. 3. 
Foreign Bees, . 

Euglossa Surinamensis. Plate XIX. Fig. 1. 

Euglossa Analis. Plate XIX. Fig. 2. . . 

Aglae Caerulea. Plate XIX. Fig. 3. 

Centris Nobilis. Plate XX. Fig. 1. 

Centris Grossa. Plate XX. Fig. 2. 

Xylocopa Violacea. Plate XX. Fig. 3. . . 

Xylocopa Teredo. Plate XXI. Fig. 1. Male.— Fig. 2. 

Female, ...... 

Xylocopa Corniger. Plate XXI. Fig. 3. 

Xylocopa {Plcdynopoda, West.) Tenuiscajja. PI. XXIII. 

Fig.2. . .' . 



Page 

168 
171 
172 
177 
179 
185 
197 
201 
201 
203 
208 
215 
220 
231 
239 
243 

252 

253 

255 

256 
256 
257 
259 
260 
261 
262 
263 
263 
264 
265 

268 
270 

271 



MEMOIR OF HUBER. 



The Naturalist whose researches have heen specially 
directed to the instinct and operations of the domestic 
Honey- Bee, will be strongly disposed to regard the 
subject of this memoir as at the very head of Apiarian 
science^ and his writings as forming the safest and 
most useful text-book. Multitudes have written on 
this interesting department of Natural History, and 
have added more or less to our knowledge of what 
has been a subject of investigation for ages. But 
none, either in ancient or modern times, have dis- 
played so much sagacity of research as Francis Huber, 
nor so much patient perseverance and accuracy of 
experiment, even admitting some errors of minor 
importance detected by succeeding observers. His 
success in discovery, notwithstanding the singular 
difficulty he had to struggle with, was proportioned 
to his intelligence and acuteness ; and this difficulty 
arose, not from what some of his advocates have, in 
their zeal in his defence against the sneers of the 
sceptical, termed " imperfect vision," but from total 
blindness. For, from the period when he first applied 



18 MEMOIR OF HUBER. 

himself in good earnest to investigate the nature of 
his winged favourites, external nature presented to 
his eyes one universal blank ; 

" So thick a drop serene had quenched their orbs." 

It is not, therefore, without reason that his friend 
and eulogist De Candolle* asserts that " nothing of 
any importance has been added to the history of bees 
since his time ; and naturalists of unimpaired vision 
have nothing of consequence to subjoin to the obser- 
vations of a brother who was deprived of sight." 

Francis Huber was born at Geneva on the 2d July, 
1750. His father possessed a decided taste for sub- 
jects of natural science ; the son inherited the taste of 
his father ; and, even in his boyish days, pursued his 
favourite studies with such intense ardour as mate- 
rially to injure his health, and bring on that weakness 
in his visual organs which eventually ended in total 
blindness. His attention had been led to what be- 
came his favourite, — indeed his sole and engrossing 
study, the habits and economy of the Honey-Bee, by 
his admiration of the writings of Reaumur, and above 
all, by his acquaintance with Bonnet, — the illustrious 
author of" Contemplation de la Nature," who quickly 
discerned the intelligence and penetration of his 
young friend, and who kindly and strongly encouraged 
him in his peculiar researches. It is singular enough 
that these two distinguished naturalists and friends 

* See Memoir of Huber by M. de Candolle in the Edinburgh 
Philosophical Journal for April 1833. 



MEMOIR OF HUBER. 19 

should both have laboured under a similar personal 
defect^ occasioned;, too, by the same causes ; for the 
same intenseness and minuteness of observation which 
deprived Huber of sight altogether, had brought on 
in Bonnet a weakness of vision which for a time 
threatened total blindness, and from which he never 
fully recovered. 

It will readily occur to every one that the loss of 
sight in Huber must not only have presented a very 
serious obstacle to the successful study of his favourite 
science, but must have had the effect also of throwing 
considerable doubt on the accuracy of his experiments 
and the reality of his discoveries. His most devoted 
admirers and most unhesitating followers in every 
thing connected with the economy of Bees, are bound 
in candour to acknowledge, that his observations, 
reported, as they were, at second hand, and depend- 
ing for their accuracy on the intelligence and fidelity 
of a half-educated assistant, were, of themselves, not 
entitled to be received without caution and distrust. 
Francis Burnens, his assistant, had no doubt entered 
with enthusiasm into the pursuit, and appears to have 
conducted the experiments not only with the most 
patient assiduity, but with great address and no small 
share of steadiness and courage, qualities indispensable 
in those who take liberties with the irritabile genus 
apum. Still Burnens was but an uncultivated peasant 
when he became Huber's hired servant, and possessed 
none of those acquired accomplishments which serve 
to sharpen the intellectual faculties, and fit the mind 
for observing and discriminating with correctness. 



20 MEMOIR OF HUBER. 

It cannot reasonably excite our wonder, therefore, 
that on the first appearance of Huber's observations, 
the literary, or rather the scientific world, was some- 
what startled, not only at the novelty of his discoveries, 
but also at the instrumentality by which they had 
been efi^ected. Huber, however, had taken great 
pains in cultivating the naturally acute mind of the 
young man, in directing his researches, and accus- 
toming him to rigorous accuracy in his observations. 
And the fact that a glimmering of many of the dis- 
coveries reported by the assistant to his master had 
presented themselves to the minds of Linnaeus, Reau- 
mur, and other preceding observers, should so far 
satisfy us that they were not brought forward merely 
to support a preconceived theory, (of which, it i» 
probable, Burnens had no idea,) nor owed their origin 
to a vivid and exuberant imagination. At a future 
period Huber was deprived of the aid of this valuable 
coadjutor ; but the loss was more than compensated, 
and accuracy in experiment and observation, if pos- 
sible, still more unquestionably secured, by the assis- 
tance and co-operation of his son, P. Huber, who 
has given so much delight to the lovers of natural 
history by his " Researches concerning the habits of 
Ants." 

But, whatever hesitation may arise in our minds 
from the fact of Huber's discoveries not being the 
result of his personal observation, no doubt can rea- 
sonably remain as to such of them as have been 
repeatedly confirmed and verified by subsequent ob- 
servers. And this has actually taken place, and holds 



MEMOIR OF HUBER. 21 

strictly true in regard to the most important of tliem. 
His discoveries respecting the impregnation of the 
Queen-BeCj — the consequences of retarded impreg- 
nation^ — the power possessed by the working-bees of 
converting a worker-larva into a Queen, — a fact, though 
not originally discovered by Huber, yet, until his deci- 
sive experiments and illustrations, never entirely 
known or credited, — the origin of Wax, and the 
manner of its elaboration, — the nature of Propolis, 
— the mode of constructing the combs and cells, — 
and of ventilatinor or renovatino; the vitiated atmos- 
phere of the hives, — these, and a variety of other 
particulars of inferior moment, have almost all been 
repeatedly verified by succeeding observers, and 
many of them by the writer of this brief Memoir. 
It is readily admitted, that some of his experiments, 
when repeated, have not been attended by the re- 
sults which he led us to expect ; and some incidents 
in the proceedings of the Bees stated as having been 
observed by him or his assistant, have not yet been 
witnessed by succeeding observers. But in some of 
these, the error may have been in the repetition ; in 
others, the result, even under circumstances appa- 
rently the same, may not always be uniform, for the 
instinct of Bees is liable to modification ; and in some, 
he doubtless may he, and probably is, mistaken. In 
passing judgment^ however, on his reported disco- 
veries, we ought to keep in view, that the author of 
them has thrown more light on this portion of natural 
history, and pursued it with a more assiduous and 
minute accuracy, than all the other naturalists taken 



22 MEMOIR OF HUBEB. 

together, who have turned their attention to the same 
pursuits ; and that therefore nothing short of the 
direct evidence of our senses, the most rigid scrutiny, 
and the most niinute correctness of detail in experi- 
ment, can justify our denouncing his accuracy, or 
drawing different conclusions. His experiments were 
admirably fitted to elicit the truth, and his inferences 
so strictly logical, as to afford all reasonable security 
against any very important error. 

Ruber's "Nouvelles observations sur les Abeilles*', 
addressed in the form of letters to his friend Bonnet, 
appeared in 1792 in one volume. In 1814, a second 
edition was published at Paris in two volumes, com- 
prehending the result of additional researches on the 
same subject, edited in part by his son. An English 
version appeared in 1806, and was very favourably 
noticed by the Edinburgh Review. A third edition 
of this translation was published in Edinburgh in 
1821, embracing not only the original work of 1792, 
but also the several additions contained in thatof 1814, 
and which had originally made their appearance in 
the Bibliotheque Britannique. These additional ob- 
servations were. On the Origin of Wax, On the use of 
Farina or Pollen, On the Architecture of Bees, and 
On the precautions adopted by these insects against 
the ravages of the Sphinx Atropos. 

To enlarge on the personal character and domestic 
circumstances of Huber, falls not strictly within our 
province, which embraces only, or chiefly, his cha- 
racter and writings as a naturalist. There are how- 
ever some features in his disposition, and some cir- 



MEMOIR OF HUBER. 23 

cumstances in his personal history, dwelt upon at 
considerable length by De CandoUe,* which appear so 
well worthy the attention of our readers, that we 
cannot forego the opportunity of detailing them, 
though necessarily in an abridged form. His man- 
ners were remarkably mild and amiable, — as is fre- 
quently found to be the case with those who are af- 
flicted with blindness, — and his conversation animated 
and interesting. " When any one," says his friend, 
" spoke to him on subjects which interested his heart, 
his noble figure became strikingly animated, and the 
viyacity of his countenance seemed by a mysterious 
magic to animate even his eyes, which had so long 
been condemned to blindness." It appears that 
some of his friends would gladly have persuaded him 
to try the effect of an operation on 07ie of his eyes, 
which seemed to be affected only by simple cataract ; 
but he declined the proposal, and bore not only with- 
out complaint, but with habitual cheerfulness, his 
sad deprivation. His marriage with Maria Aimee 
LuUin, the daughter of a Swiss magistrate, was in a 
high degree romantic. The attachment had begun 
in their early youth, but was opposed by the lady's 
father on the ground of Huber's increasing infirmity ; 
for even then, the gradual decay of his organs of 
vision was become but too manifest. The affection 
and devotedness of the young lady, however, ap- 
peared to strengthen in proportion to the helplessness 
of their object. She declared to her parents, that 

* See Edinburgh Phil. Journal for April 1833. 



24 MEMOIR OF HUBER. 

althougli slie would have readily submitted to their 
Avill, if the man of her choice could have done with- 
out her ; yet as he now required the constant attend- 
ance of a person who loved him, nothing should pre- 
vent her from becoming his wife. Accordingly, as 
soon as she had attained the age which she imagined 
gave her a right to decide for herself, she, after re- 
fusing many brilliant offers, united her fate with that 
of Huber. The union was a happy one. Their 
mutual good conduct soon brought about the pardon 
of their disobedience. In the affection and society of 
his amiable and generous minded wife, the blind man 
felt no want ; she was " eyes to the blind," — " his 
reader, — his secretary and observer," — a sharer in 
his enthusiasm on the subject of natural science, and 
an able assistant in his experiments. She was spared 
to him forty years. " As long as she lived," said he 
in his old age, " I was not sensible of the misfortune 
of being blind." The last years of his life were 
soothed by the affectionate attentions of his married 
daughter, Madame de Molin,* whose residence was 
at Lausanne, and to which place he had removed. 

It was about this period that he learned the ex- 
istence in Mexico of Bees without stings ; and he 
was, by the kind exertions of a friend, soon after 
gratified with the present of a hive of that species. 

* We have to express our acknowledgments to this lady for 
her ready kindness in permitting a friend in Geneva to have 
a copy taken of the very interesting miniature likeness of her 
venerable father in her possession, and which forms the Frontis- 
piece to this volimie. 



MEMOIR OF HUBER. 25 

To hinij whose life had heen almost exclusively de- 
voted to the study and admiration of these insects, 
we may conceive how great a source of enjo3rment 
this gift must have proved. His feeling towards his 
bees was not a feeling of fondness in an ordinary 
degree ; it was a passion^ as it almost invariably be- 
comes with every one who makes them his study. 
'' Beaucoup de gens aiment les abeilles," says the 
enthusiastic Gelieu, "je n'ai vu personne qui les 
aima mediocrement ; on se passionne pour elles." 
The days of Huber were now drawing to a close. 
In the full possession of his mental faculties, he was 
able to converse with his friends with his accustomed 
ease and tranquillity, and even to correspond by let* 
ter with those at a distance, within two days of his 
death. He died in the arms of his daughter on the 
22d of December 1831, in the 81st year of his age. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 
APIS MELLIFICA. PLATE I. 



INTRODUCTION. 

The domestic Honey-Bee has excited a lively and 
almost universal interest from the earliest ages. The 
philosopher and the poet have each delighted in the 
study of an insect whose nature and hahits afford 
such ample scope for inquiry and contemplation ; and 
even the less intellectual peasant, while not insensi- 
ble of the profit arising from its judicious culture, 
has regarded, with pleasure and admiration, its in- 
genious operations and unceasing activity. " Wise 
in their government," observes the venerable Kirby, 
" diligent and active in their employments, devoted 
to their young and to their queen, the Bees read a 
lecture to mankind that exemplifies their oriental 
name Deburah, she that speaketh." 

So high did the ancients carry their admiration of 
this tiny portion of animated nature, that one philo- 
sopher, it is said, made it the sole object of his 
study for nearly three-score years ; another retired 
to the woods, and devoted to its contemplation the 
whole of his life; while the great Latin poet, the 



28 THE HONEY-BEE. 

enthusiastic Virgil, stating, and probably adopting, a 
prevalent opinion, speaks of the Bee as ^' having 
received a direct emanation from the divine intelli- 
gence." After all this study, however, these enthu- 
siastic admirers have thrown but little light on the 
real nature of this extraordinary insect ; and while 
they have handed down to us many judicious pre- 
cepts for its practical treatment, their disquisitions on 
its natural history can now only excite a smile. The 
chief cause of this failure may be fairly ascribed, 
perhaps, to the want of those facilities for discovery 
which modern science has afforded, and by which 
the most hidden mysteries of Bee economy are ren- 
dered clear and palpable. A host of writers on the 
nature of the Bee appeared during the last century, 
who, availing themselves of the improvements in 
general science, made many interesting additions to 
our stock of knowledge on the subject. Swammer- 
dam, Maraldi, Reaumur, Bonnet, Schirach, and more 
recently Huber on the Continent, and Thorley, Wild- 
man, Keys, Hunter, and Bonner, among ourselves, 
multiplied, a hundred-fold, the discoveries of Aris- 
totle, Columella, and Varo ; and the vague conjec- 
tures and fabulous details of the latter philosophers, 
have been succeeded by rational research and dis- 
criminating experiment. But even in the investiga- 
tions of the first named writers, not excepting the 
most accurate and successful experimenter of them 
all, the indefatigable Huber, there are some obvious 
errors which longer experience and observation have 
been enabled to detect, and some questionable state- 



THE HONEY-BEE. 2d 

ments which can he attributed only to a want of 
cool and dispassionate inquir3\ In fact, much has 
been written and published on the subject calculated 
to startle a sober reader; and some of those dis- 
coveries which have been blazoned in publications, 
both at home and abroad — though most frequently, 
perhaps, on the Continent — will be found, on strict 
examination, to have no existence but in the warm 
fancy or blind enthusiasm of the observers. The 
incontrovertible facts in the natural history of the 
Bee, are, in themselves, too remarkable to justify 
any attempt to draw upon the imagination for addi- 
tional wonder; and the Naturalist who is desirous 
of making himself thoroughly acquainted with the 
instincts and habits of this interesting little creature, 
should be cautious in considering, as an established 
fact, any discovery, or supposed discovery, which 
has not been, again and again, verified by rigid ex- 
periment. 

In the following details, embracing the Natural 
History and Practical IManagement of the Honey-Bee, 
we have endeavoured to avoid this error, stating 
nothing as fact, but what we know to be so from 
undoubted testimony, or from our own knowledge 
and experience. At the same time, we have not 
omitted to notice such alleged discoveries or results 
of experiments, as appear to us to be unsupported 
by sufficient evidence, or at variance with experi- 
ments of our own, made for the express purpose of 
verification, leaving it to the reader to receive or re- 
ject them as his judgment may dictate. We have 



30 THE HONEY-BEE. 

availed ourselves of the information dispersed through- 
out a variety of publications, both ancient and mo- 
dern,* with such additions of our own, as have been 
acquired by the observation of Bees for a period of 
thirty years. Our prescribed limits have restricted 
us, in a great degree, to mere matters of fact, and 
prevented us often from illustrating our subject, as 
we might have done with advantage, by reference to 
the habits and instincts of other of the insect tribes. 
The same cause has operated as a bar to our indulg- 
ing so frequently as our inclination would have led 
us, in those reflections which the wonders in animal 
economy are so well fitted to excite, and which lead 
so irresistibly to the conclusion that there is a Wise 
and Designing Cause. We trust, however, that the 
facts detailed, will, of themselves, lead the mind of 
the intelligent reader to such reflections, and thus 
become the source of a purer gratification than would 
have been derived from the suggestions of others. 

* We have to acknowledge our special obligations to the 
Treatises of M. Feburier of Paris, and of Dr. Bevan of South 
Wales, Author of « The Honey-Bee." 

\* Some of our readers may be inclined to question the 
propriety of having placed the Queen-bee upon flowers, on 
which she is never seen, but it has, throughout our plates, 
been our endeavour to make them pictorial as Avell as scienti- 
fically correct, the more necessary in a volume such as the 
present, where our materials are rather scanty, a loss, however, 
fully compensated by the extraordinary interest in the subject 
itself. 



3] 



Ox\ THE ANATOMY OF THE HONEY-BEE. 



The Honey-Bee, Apis mellijica, is of the order 
Hymenoptera, or that of msects having four membran- 
aceous wings. Its anatomic structure presents, even 
to the superficial observer, striking evidences of design 
in the All-wise Contriver, and of the admirable adap- 
tation of its parts to their several uses. 

The body of the insect is about half an inch long, 
of a blackish-brown colour which deepens with age, 
and is wholly covered with close-set hairs, which 
assist greatly in collecting the farina of flowers. 
(Wood-cut, Fig. 2.) 




Fig, 2. 



32 ON THE ANATOMY OF 

Tearing open the anthers of the plant on which it 
has ahghted, and rolling its little hody in the hottom 
of the corolla, the insect rapidly brushes off the farina, 
moistens it with its mouthy and passes it from one 
pair of legs to another, till it is safely lodged in the 
form of a kidney-shaped pellet in a spoon-like recep- 
tacle in its thigh to be afterwards noticed. These 
hairs deserve to be particularly remarked on account 
of their peculiar formation, hemg feather-shaped, or 
rather consisting each of a stem with branches dis- 
posed around it, and, therefore, besides their more 
effectually retaining the animal heat, peculiarly adapted 
for their office of sweeping off the farina. 

The Head, which is of a triangular shape and much 
flattened, is furnished with a pair of large eyes, (Wood- 
cut, p. 3 1, Fig, 'i,aa,)oi what is called by naturalists the 
composite construction, and consisting of a vast assem- 
blage of small hexagonal surfaces, disposed with 
exquisite regularity, each constituting in itself a per- 
fect eye ; they are thickly studded with hairs, which 
preserve them from dust, &c. In addition to these 
means of vision, the bee is provided with three small 
stemmata, or coronetted eyes, situated in the very 
crown of the head, and arranged in the form of a 
triangle. These must add considerably to the capa- 
city of vision in an insect whose most important 
operations are carried on in deep obscurity. As to 
the special or peculiar use these ocelli may serve, 
Eeaumur and Blumenbach were of opinion, that, 
while the large compound organs are used for viewing 
distant objects, the simple ones are employed on 



THE HONEY-BEE. 33 

objects close at hand. It is not improbablej however, 
that these last, from their peculiar position, are ap- 
propriated to upward vision. 

The Antennae (Fig. I. b.) present us with another 
remarkable appendage of the head. These are 
two tubes about the thickness of a hair, springing 
from between the eyes, and a little below the ocelli ; 
they are jointed throughout their whole length, each 
consisting of twelve articulations, and therefore cap- 
able of every variety of flexure. Their extremities 
are tipped with small round knobs, exquisitely sensi- 
ble ; and which, from their resemblance to the stem- 
mata or ocelli, have been supposed by some to serve 
as organs of vision ; by others, as connected with the 
sense of hearing ; and by others, as organs of feeling 
or touch. This last seems the most probable con- 
jecture, as on approaching any solid object or obstacle, 
the Bee cautiously brings its antennae in contact with 
it, as if exploring its nature. The insects use these 
organs, also, as a means of recognizing one another ; 
and an interesting instance is stated by Huber, in 
which they were employed to ascertain the presence 
of their queen, (vide page 48.) 

The Mouth of the Bee comprehends the tongue, 
the mandibles or upper jaws, the maxillae or lower 
jaws, the labrum or upper lip, the labium or lower 
lip, with the proboscis connected with it, and four 
palpi or feelers. The tongue of the Bee, like that 
of other animals, is situated within the mouth, and 
is so small and insignificant in its form, as not to be 
easily discernible. In most anatomical descriptions 

c 



34 ON THE ANATOMY OF 

of the Bee, the real tongue^ now described, has been 
erroneously confounded with the ligula or central 
piece of the proboscis, afterwards to be described. 
The upper jaw (Wood-Cut, page 31, fig. 1. c, c.) 
of the Bee, as of all other insects, is divided verti- 
cally into two, thus forming, in fact, ^ pair of jaws 
under the name of mandibles. They move horizon- 
tally, are furnished with teeth, and serve to the little 
labourers as tools, with which they perform a variety 
of .operations, as manipulating the wax, constructing 
the combs, and polishing them, seizing their enemies, 
destroying the drones, &c. The lower jaws or maxillee, 
divided vertically as the others, form, together with 
the labium or under lip, the complicated apparatus 
of the Proboscis. Its parts are represented in the 
following figure. 



h ^. 




THE HONEY-BEE. 35 

This organ, beautiful in its construction, and 
admirably adapted to its end, serving to the insect 
the purpose of extracting the juices secreted in the 
nectaries of flowers, consists, principally, of a long 
slender piece, named, by entomologists, the Ligula, 
and erroneously, though, considering its position and 
use, not unnaturally, regarded as the tongue, (Wood- 
Cut, page 34,. fig. a.) It is, strictly speaking, formed 
by a prolongation of the lower lip. It is not tubular, 
as has been supposed, but solid throughout, consisting 
of a close succession of cartilaginous rings, above 
forty in number, each of which is fringed with very 
minute hairs, and having also a small tuft of hair 
at its extremity. It is of a flattish form, and about 
the thickness of a human hair; and from its car- 
tilaginous structure, capable of being easily moved 
in all directions, rolling from side to side, and lanping 
or licking up whatever, by the aid of the hairy fringes, 
adheres to it. It is probably, by muscular motion, 
that the fluid which it laps, is propelled into the 
pharynx or canal, situated at its root, and through 
which it is conveyed to the honey-bag. 

From the base of this lapping instrument, arise the 
labial Palpi or Feelers, composed of four articulations, 
(Jb, b.) of unequal length, the basal one being by much 
the longest, and whose peculiar oflice is to ascertain 
the nature of the food ; and both these and the ligula 
are protected from injury by the maxillae or lower 
jaws, (c, c.) which envelop them, when in a quiescent 
state, as between two demi-sheaths, and thus pre- 
sent the appearance of a single tube. About the 
middle of the maxillee, are situated the maxillary 



36 ON THE ANATOMY OP 

palpij of very diminutive size, but having the same 
office to perform as those situated at the base of the 
ligula. The whole of the apparatus is capable of 
being doubled up by means of an articulation or joint 
in the middle. The half next the lip bends itself 
inwards, and lays itself along the other half which 
stretches towards the root, and both are folded 
together, within a very small compass, under the 
head and neck. The whole machinery rests on a 
pedicle, not seen in the figure, which admits of its 
being drawn back or propelled forwards to a con- 
siderable extent. The celebrated naturalist, Ray, 
whose knowledge of the minutiae of insect anatomy 
was but slender, " was," Kirby remarks, " at a loss 
to conceive what could be the use of the complex 
machinery of the proboscis. We who know the 
admirable art and contrivance manifested in the con- 
struction of this organ, need not wonder, but we 
shall be inexcusable if we do not adore." * 

The Trunk of the Bee, or Thorax, (Wood-Cut, 
p. ol, fig. 2, a.) approaches in figure to a sphere, 
and is united to the head by a pedicle or thread-like 
ligament. It contains the muscles of the wings and 
legs. The former consist of two pair of unequal 
size, and are attached to each other by slender hooks, 
easily discernible through a microscope, and thereby 
their motion, and the flight of the insect, are rendered 
more steady. Behind the wings, on each side of the 
Trunk, are situated several small orifices, called 
stigmata or spiracles, through which respiration is 
effected. These orifices are connected with a system 
* Monographia Apum Angliae, II. 342. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 37 

of air-vesselsj pervading every part of the body, and 
serving the purpose of lungs. The rushing of the 
air through them against the wings, while in motion, 
is supposed to be the cause of the humming sound 
made by the Bees. 

To the lower part of the trunk are attached three 
pair of Legs. The anterior pair, which are most effi- 
cient instruments, serving to the insect the same pur- 
pose as the arms and hands to man, are the shortest, 
and the posterior pair the longest. In each of these 
limbs there are several articulations or joints, of 
which three are larger than the others, serving to 
connect the thigh, the leg or pallet, and the foot or 
tarsus ; the others are situated chiefly in the tarsus. 
(Plate 11. Fig. 2., a. the haunch, h. the thigh, c. the 
tibia or pallet, containing on the opposite side, as 
represented at Fig. 4 a., the basket or cavity ; d, e. 
the foot.) In each of the hinder limbs, one of 
which is represented ia Plate II. Fig. 2, there is 
an admirable provision made for enabling the Bee 
to carry to its hive an important part of its stores, 
and which neither the queen nor the male possess, 
being exempted from that labour, viz. a small trian- 
gular cavity of a spoon-like shape, the exterior of 
which is smooth and glossy, while its inner surface 
is lined with strong close-set hairs. This cavity forms 
a kind of basket, destined to receive the pollen of 
flowers, one of the ingredients composing the food of 
the young. It receives also the propolis, a viscous 
substance, by which the combs are attached to the 
roof and walls of the hive, and by which any open- 
ings are stopped that might admit vermin or the cold. 



o8 ON THE ANATOMY OF 

The hairs with which the basket is lined^ are designed 
to retain firmly the materials with which the thigh is 
loaded. The three pair of legs are all furnished, 
particularly at the joints, with thick-set hairs, form- 
ing brushes, some of them round, some flattened, 
and which serve the purpose of sweeping off the 
farina. There is yet another remarkable peculiarity 
in this third pair of limbs. The junction of the pallet 
and tarsus is effected in such a manner as to form, 
by the curved shape of the corresponding parts, " a 
pair of real pincers, A rowof shelly teeth, (PL II. Fig. 
3 a,) like those of a comb, proceed from the lower edge 
of the pallet, corresponding to bundles of very strong 
hairs, with which the neighbouring portion of the 
brush is provided. When the two edges of the pin- 
cers meet — that is, the under edge of the pallet, and 
the upper edge of the brush, the hairs of each are 
incorporated together."* The extremities of the six 
feet or tarsi, terminate each in two hooks, with their 
points opposed to each other, by means of which the 
Bees fix themselves to the roof of the hive, and to 
one another, when suspended, as they often are, in 
the form of curtains, inverted cones, festoons, lad- 
ders, &c. From the middle of these hooks proceeds 
a little thin appendix, which, when not in use, lies 
folded double through its whole breadth ; when in 
action it enables the insect to sustain its body in 
opposition to the force of gravity, and thereby adhere 
to, and walk freely and securely upon glass and 
other slippery substances, with its feet upwards. 

* Ruber's Observations on Bees, p. 351. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 39 

The Abdomen, (Plate III. figs. 3, 4, 5, & 6,) 
attached to the posterior part of the thorax by a 
slender hgament like that which unites the thorax 
and the head, consists of six scaly rings of unequal 
breadth. It contains two stomachs, the small in- 
testines, the venom-bag, and the sting. An open- 
ing, placed at the root of the proboscis, is the mouth 
of the oesophagus or gullet, which traverses the 
trunk, and leads to the anterior stomach. This last 
named vessel is but a dilatation of the gullet, and in 
fact forms the honey-bag. When full, it exhibits 
the form of a small transparent globe, somewhat less 
in size than a pea. It is susceptible of contraction, 
and so organised as to enable the Bee to disgorge its 
contents. The second stomach, which is separated 
from the first, of which it appears to be merely a 
continuation, only by a very short tube, is cylin- 
drical, and very muscular ; it is the receptacle for 
the food, which is there digested, and conveyed by 
the small intestines to all parts of the body for its 
nutriment. It receives also the honey from which 
wax is elaborated. Scales of this last mentioned 
substance are found ranged in pairs, and contained 
in minute receptacles under the lower segments of 
the abdomen. No direct channel of communication 
between the stomach and these receptacles or wax- 
pockets has yet been discovered ; but Huber con- 
jectures that the secreting vessels are contained in 
the membrane which lines these receptacles, and 
which is covered with a reticulation of hexagonal 
meshes analogous to the inner coat of the second 
stomach of ruminating quadrupeds, Plate III. Fig. 1, 



40 



ON THE ANATOMY OF 



copied from Huber, gives a representation of one 
of the segments or rings, in which a ^ is a small 
horny prominence, forming the division between two 
areas which are bounded by a solid edge c n d g m e. 
" The scales of wax, (Fig. 2,) are deposited in these 
two areas, and assume the same shape, viz. an irregular 
pentagon. Only eight scales are furnished by each 
individual Bee, for the first and last ring, constituted 
differently from the others, afford none. The scales 
do not rest immediately on the body of the insect ; 
a slight liquid medium is interposed, which serves 
to lubricate the junctures of the rings, and facihtate 
the extraction of the scales, which might otherwise 
adhere too firmly to the sides of the receptacles." * 




* Huber's Observations on Bees, page 324. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 41 

The StinGj with its appendages, (annexed Wood- 
Cutj) lies close to the last stomach, and, like the 
prohoscis, may seem to the naked eye a simple in- 
strument, while it is, in fact, no less complex in its 
structure than the former apparatus. Instead of 
being a simple sharp-pointed weapon, like a- fine 
needle, it is composed of two branches or darts, a a, 
applied to each other longitudinally, and lodged in 
one sheath, h h. One of these darts is somewhat 
longer than the other; they penetrate alternately, 
taking hold of the flesh, till the whole sting is com- 
pletely buried. The sheath is formed by two horny 
scales, (themselves inclosed within two fleshy sheaths, 
cc^ along the groove of which, when the sting is 
extruded, flows the poison from a bag or reservoir d, 
in the body of the insect near the root of the sting. 
The darts composing this weapon, are each furnished 
with five teeth or barbs, set obliquely on their outer 
side, which give the instrument the appearance of an 
arrow, and by which it is retained in the wound it 
has made, till the poison has been injected ; and 
though it is said the insect has the power of raising 
or depressing them at pleasure, it often happens that 
when suddenly driven away, it is unable to extricate 
itself without leaving behind it the whole apparatus, 
and even part of its intestines ; death is the inevit- 
able consequence. Though detached from the ani- 
mal, this formidable weapon still retains, by means 
of the strong muscles by which it is impelled, the 
power of forcing itself still deeper. On the subject 



42 ON THE ANATOMY OF 

of the sting, Paley"' ingeniously remarks : " The 
action of the sting affords an example of the union 
of chemistry/ and mechanism ; of chemistry, in re- 
spect to the venom which in so small a quantity can 
produce such powerful effects : of mechanism, as 
the sting is not a simple, but a compound instru- 
ment. The machinery would have been compara- 
tively useless — telum imbelle — had it not been for 
the chemical process, by which, in the insect's body, 
honey is converted into poison ; and on the other 
hand, the poison would have been ineffectual vidth- 
out an instrument to wound, and a syringe to inject 
the fluid." 

Having noticed these particulars in the anatomi- 
cal structure of the working-bee, as the general re- 
presentative of the species, we shall next point out 
in what it differs from the conformation of the queen, 
and the male or drone. The queen is frequently 
styled by the Continental Naturalists the Mother-Bee, 
and with great propriety ; as it seems now ascer- 
tained that her distinguishing qualities have a closer 
reference to the properties of a parent, than to the 
province of a sovereign. Her body differs from that of 
the worker, (PI. 1, fig. 2,) in being considerably larger, 
and of a deeper black in the upper parts, while the 
under surface and the limbs are of a rich tawny 
colour. Her proboscis is more slender ; her legs are 
longer than those of the worker, but without the 
hairy brushes at the joints ; and as she is exempted 

* Natural Theology, page 234. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 43 

from the drudgery of collecting farina or propolis, 
the posterior pair are without the spoon-like cavity 
found in those of her labouring offspring. When 
about to become a mother, her body is considerably 
SAVollen and elongated, and her wings in consequence 
appear disproportionally short. The abdomen of the 
queen contains the ovarium, (Plate IV.,) consisting 
of two branches, each of which contains a large as- 
semblage of vessels filled with eggs, and terminating 
in what is called the oviduct. This duct, when ap- 
proaching the anus, dilates itself into a larger re- 
ceptacle into which the eggs are discharged, and 
which is considered by Naturalists as the sperm-re- 
servoir, or depository of fecundating matter; from 
thence they are extruded by the insect, and depo- 
sited in the cell prepared for their reception. The 
sting possessed by the Queen is bent, while that of 
the worker is straight ; it is seldom, however, brought 
into action, — perhaps only in a conflict with a rival 
queen. 

The male, (PI. 1, fig. 1,) is considerably more 
bulky than the woi-king Bee. The eyes are more 
prominent ; the antennae have thirteen articulations 
instead of twelve ; the proboscis is shorter, the hind- 
legs have not the basket for containing farina, and 
he is unprovided with a sting. The cavity of the 
abdomen is wholly occupied with the digestive and 
reproductive organs. The very loud humming noise 
he makes in flying, has fixed upon him the appella- 
tion of Drone. 



44 



THE SENSES OF BEES. 



Much uncertainty has prevailed on the subject of 
the senses possessed by this insect, not so much, per- 
haps, in regard to their existence as to the locality of 
the organs. Most naturalists admit their possession 
of five senses, analogous to those of man, though the 
celebrated Huber seems to have some doubt as to the 
existence of the faculty of hearing in Bees, at least 
without some important modifications. Greater diver- 
sity of opinion, however, prevails as to the situation 
of those organs by which the impressions of sight, 
touch, taste, sound, and smell are produced on their 
sensations ; and many curious experiments by diflfe- 
rent naturalists have been made with a view to ascer- 
tain the truth, but which have not always led to the 
same results. In researches so minute, it is, perhaps, 
vain to look for perfect accuracy in our conclusions, 
and we must be satisfied with any thing like a reason- 
able approximation to the truth. 

Sight. — In our remarks on the anatomical structure 
of the head of the Bee, we observed, that, besides the 
large reticulated eyes placed, as in other animals, on 
the sides of the head, this insect possessed three stem- 



THE SENSES OF BEES. 45 

mata or coronetted eyes, arranged triangularly on its 
centre, between the antennae. That these little specks 
are, in reality, organs of vision, has been made appa- 
rent from accurate experiments, in which, when the 
reticulated eyes were blindfolded, the insect was evi- 
dently not deprived of sight, though the direction of 
its flight, being vertical, seemed to prove that the 
stemmata were adapted only or chiefly to upward 
vision. This additional organ must, doubtless, add 
considerably to its power of sight, though, probably, 
its aid may be confined chiefly to the obscure recesses 
of the hive. As the internal operations of the insect 
in the honey season are carried on during the night as 
well as the day, the coronet-eyes may, as Reaumur 
conjectures, serve to it the purpose of a microscope. 
As to the general power of vision in the Bee, its 
organs appear better adapted to distant objects than 
to such as are close at hand. When returning loaded 
from the fields, it flies with unerring certainty, and 
distinguishes at once its own domicile in the midst of 
a crowded apiary. Yet every person who has at all 
made this insect the subject of observation, must have 
seen it often at a loss, in returning to its hive to find the 
entrance, especially if its habitation has been shifted 
ever so little from its former station ; nay, if, without 
moving the hive, the entrance has been turned round 
a single inch from its former position, the Bee flies 
with unerring precision to that point on the alighting 
board where the door formerly stood, and frequently, 
after many fruitless attempts to find the entrance, it 
is forced to rise again into the air, with a view, we 



46 THE SENSES OF BEES. 

may suppose,, of removing to such a distance from tlie 
desired object as is suited to the properties or focus 
of its visual organ. We are led to conclude, therefore, 
from these well-known facts, that the eye of the Bee 
has a lengthened focus, and that it must depend on 
the aid of other organs in those operations wherein its 
attention is directed to objects close at hand. 

Feeling or Touch. — The organs of this sense are 
supposed, with reason, to reside in the antennae and 
palpi or feelers, particularly in the former, Huber 
concludes that the antennae supply the want of sight 
in the interior of the hive, and that it is solely by 
their means they are enabled to construct their combs 
in darkness, pour their honey into the magazines, feed 
the young,judge of their age and necessities, and recog- 
nise their queen. Though it does by no means appear 
clear that the bees are devoid of sight when employed 
in their in-door operations, — though, on the contrary, 
there is reason to believe, as already stated, that the 
stemmata or ocelli serve as orbs of vision, — this natu- 
ralist is probably not wrong in ascribing to the antennae 
an important share in these operations. That the 
bees use them as means of communication and recog- 
nition, seems readily admitted by apiarians. When 
a hive has lost its queen, the event, as may well be 
supposed, causes a high degree of agitation in the 
colony; the disturbed workers, who have first, by 
some unknown means, acquired the knowledge of this 
public calamity, soon quit their immediate circle, and, 
" meeting their companions," says Huber, " the an- 
tennae are reciprocally crossed, and they slightly strike 



THE SENSES OF BEES. 47 

them." The communication made by these means 
is quickly disseminated^ and in a few minutes the 
whole colony is in a state of agitation and distress. 
Of the antennae being employed as instruments of 
recognition, the same naturalist gives a striking in- 
stance, which our limits prohibit us from giving in 
his own words ; suffice it to say here, that by means 
of a wire grating, wide enough only to admit the cir- 
culation of air, inserted in the middle of the hive, he 
separated the queen from the half of her subjects, 
and ascertained that neither sight, hearing, nor smell 
made the near neighbourhood of their sovereign known 
to them, for they proceeded to rear a new queen from 
the larva of a worker, as if the other were irrecoverably 
lost. But when he substituted a grating wide enough 
to allow the transmission of the antennae, all went on 
as usual, for the bees soon ascertained by these organs 
the existence of their queen. 

Another important use which the bees make of this 
organ of touch deserves notice. " Let us follow their 
operations by moonshine, when they keep watch at 
the opening of the hive to prevent the intrusion of 
moths then on the wing. It is curious to observe how 
artfully the moth knows to profit to the disadvantage 
of the bees which require much light for seeing objects, 
and the precautions taken by the latter in reconnoitering 
and expelling so dangerous an enemy. Like vigilant 
sentinels, they patrole around their habitations witli 
their antennae stretched out straight before them, or 
tumins: to right and left : woe to the moth if it can- 
not escape their contact; it tries to glide along between 



48 THE SENSES OF BEES. 

tlie guards, carefully avoiding their flexible organs, 
as if aware that its safety depended on its caution."* 
Taste, In Bees, Taste appears, on a slight view, 
to differ most materially from that sense in man ; 
and because with all their eager fondness for the 
rich nectar of flowers, they are frequently detected 
lapping the impure fluid from corrupted marshes, it 
has been hastily concluded, that their sense of Taste 
is very defective. Huber thought it the least perfect 
of the Bee-senses, and instances their gathering 
honey even from poisonous flowers, and regaling 
themselves with foetid liquids. Now, with deference 
to this distinguished observer, it may be permitted, 
perhaps, to defend our favourites from so injurious 
an imputation. We have prima facie evidence of 
the delicacy of their taste in their eager activity in 
collecting their delicious stores of honey secreted by 
the most fragrant flowers ; and such is their ardour 
in these operations, that they defy the elements when 
the honey-season is at its height, and, laying aside 
their usual fears of bad weather, boldly encounter 
wind and rain to get at their favourite fluid. Huber 
acknowledges, that when " the lime-tree and black 
grain blossom, they brave the rain, depart before sun- 
rise, and return later than ordinary. But their activity 
relaxes after the flowers have faded; and when the 
enamel adorning the meadows has fallen under the 
scythe, the Bees remain in their dwelling, however 
brilliant the sunshine." Wherefore have they not, 

* Huber, 284. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 49 

in this decline of the flowering season, recourse to 
the foul marsh and slimy pool, which they are 
charged with frequenting ? Simply because the pur- 
poses for which they did frequent these unwholesome 
liquids have already been answered. The truth is, 
the Bees have recourse in spring, but generally 
speaking, in spring oijly, to dunghills and stagnant 
marshes, for the sake of the salts with which they 
are impregnated, and which their instinct teaches 
them are advantageous to their health after their 
long winter confinement. If we place before the 
Bees a portion of honey, and a portion of liquid 
drawn from a corrupt source, their choice will com- 
pletely vindicate the purity of their taste, and their 
power of discrimination in the selection of their food. 
It is not meant to be denied, however, that the 
sense of taste in Bees is ever at fault. This would 
be going in the face of some well authenticated in- 
stances of honey being injured, and even rendered 
dangerous, in consequence of the Bees feeding on 
noxious plants. Towards the close of the year, 
when flowers become scarce, and in those parts 
of the country where alders abound, and where 
onions and leeks are cultivated on a large scale, and 
allowed to run to seed, the Bees, from taste, or from 
necessity, or from anxiety to complete their winter 
stores, are seen to feed on these plants, which com- 
municate to the honey a very disagreeable flavour. 
But this is not all. The fact stated by Xenophon 
in the retreat of the Ten Thousand, and confirmed 
by Diodorus Siculus, proves that there are plants in 



50 THE SENSES OF BEES. 

Asia Minor which give to the honey not only dis- 
agreeable, but poisonous quahties. He tells us that 
the soldiers, having eaten a quantity of honey in the 
environs of Trebizonde, were seized with vertigo, 
vomitings. Sec. This effect was attributed to the 
rose-laurel, (Rhododendron Ponticum,) and yellow 
azalea, (Azalea Pontica.) Father Lamberti, also, 
assures us that a shrub of Mingrelia produces a kind 
of honey which causes very deleterious effects. It 
is quite possible that the poisonous juices extracted 
from these plants might be innoxious to the Bees 
themselves, and thus the correctness of their taste 
might be so far vindicated. Sir J. E. Smith asserts, 
that " the nectar of plants is not poisonous to Bees ;" 
and an instance is given in the American Philosophical 
Transactions, of a party of young men, who, induced 
by the prospect of gain, having removed their hives 
from Pennsylvania to the Jerseys, where there are 
vast savannahs, finely painted with the flowers of the 
Kalmia angustifolia, could not use or dispose of their 
honey on account of its intoxicating quality; yet 
" the Bees increased prodigiously j" an increase only 
to be explained, says Dr. Bevan in his Honey-Bee, 
by their being well and harmless!^ fed. Nor is this 
defence of the taste of Bees successfully controverted 
by the following occurrence stated in Nicholson's 
Journal.* '^ A large swarm of Bees having settled," 
observe that they had merely alighted upon it, to 
rest perhaps after a long flight, " on a branch of the 
poison-ash, (Rhus Vernix, L.) in the county of West 
* Page 287. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 51 

Chester in tlie province of New York, was put into 
a hive and removed to the place where it was to 
remain. Next morning the Bees were found dead, 
swelled to double their natural size, and black, 
except a few which appeared torpid and feeble, and 
soon died on exposure to the air." This was attri- 
buted to their being poisoned, not by their having 
fed upon, but by the effluvia of the Rhus Vernix. 

Hearing. — Considerable difference of opinion has 
prevailed amongst Naturalists, both as to the exist- 
once of this sense in Bees, and the situation of 
the organ. Aristotle was doubtful whether Bees 
possess this sense : " Incertum est, an audiant." 
Linnaeus and Bonnet denied them the faculty, and 
Huber seems undecided on the point ; while a host 
of others, among whom are ranked Kiiby and 
Spence, maintain its existence, and place the organ 
in the antennae. We know that the Bees dislike 
noise, for an apiar}^ situated near mills, smithies, or 
other noisy work- shops, is seldom prosperous. The 
different modulations of sound produced by the wings 
in flying, seem intended as means of communication 
addressed to an organ of hearing, as signals of attack, 
of recal, of departure, &c. In consequence of a 
belief in the reality of this sense in Bees, the practice 
is common of beating sonorous bodies at the moment 
of swarming, in order to prevent them from com- 
municating with one another, and thus to present 
an obstacle to their flying away. We know also 
that many other insects possess this faculty ; and, as 
we observe in the proceedings of Bees, the same 



52 THE SENSES OF BEES. 

effects which in other insects unquestionably proceed 
from the sense of hearing, we regard these effects 
as presumptive evidence of the former possessing 
the same faculty. Huber sets out with intimating a 
doubt of its existence, — possibly in deference to his 
friend Bonnet, to whom his letters are addressed, 
and who was an unbeliever in its reality, — yet in the 
end confesses that he is strongly tempted to believe 
in it, or at least to admit a sense in Bees analogous 
to hearing, observing that certain sounds, as produced 
by Bees, apparently serve as a signal to their com- 
panions, and are followed by regular consequences, and 
that, therefore, they may be additional means of com- 
munication to those afforded by the antennae. He 
mentions particularly a sound emitted by the queen, 
which produces paralyzing effects on the Bees in 
certain circumstances. Describing the attempts of a 
reigning queen to destroy her rivals while yet in 
their cells, he tells us, that " the Bees on guard 
pulled, bit her, and chased her away." In these 
circumstances she emitted the sound alluded to ; 
"standing, while doing so, with her thorax against 
a comb, and her wings crossed on her back, in 
motion, but without being unfolded or farther opened. 
Whatever might be the cause of her assuming this 
attitude, the Bees were affected by it ; all hung down 
their heads, and remained motionless."* On another 
occasion, after a queen had put her rival to death, 
'' she approached a royal cell, and took this moment 
to utter the sound, and assume that posture which 
* Huber, 157. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 53 

Strikes the Bees motionless."* This discovery of 
Huber has been brought forward on his authority by 
Naturalists^ as a conclusive evidence of the existence 
of the auditory faculty in Bees. And so it would 
be, if Huber was not mistaken in his supposed dis- 
covery. A voice of sovereignty producing such 
powerful and instantaneous effects on her subjects, 
is so remarkable a property of her Bee-majesty, that 
it would be desirable to have its existence proved 
beyond doubt by succeeding experiments. With 
much confidence in the accuracy of this distinguished 
Naturalist's observations, we entertain some hesita- 
tion on the subject of this magical sound. We have 
seen the queen in all the circumstances, and in all 
the positions observable within a hive; (with one 
exception, viz. combating a rival queen,) we have 
observed her very frequently in the particular situa- 
tion described by Huber when he first heard the 
commanding voice, endeavouring to tear open the 
cell of a rival, and angrily repulsed by the workers ; 
then standing at a little distance on the surface of 
the comb, with her wings crossed over her back, 
and in motion, though not fully unfolded, and emit- 
ting the clear distinct sound which is heard in a hive 
for a day or two before the departure of a second 
swarm ; and certainly we never witnessed any such 
effect produced on the Bees as Huber speaks of, and 
which, had it taken place, could not possibly have 
escaped our observation. On the contrary, the Bees 
seemed not in the slightest degree affected by her 
* Huber, 162. 



54 THE SENSES OF BEES. 

wrath, for she was evidently in a state of (jreat irrita- 
tion, but continued to surround the cell of the captive 
queen with a dogged-looking obstinacy, apparently 
expecting and prepared for another attempt on it by 
the enraged sovereign. Huber may be in the rights 
and his general accuracy affords a presumption in his 
favour; nevertheless, it would be very satisfactory 
to have his accuracy in this particular point confirmed 
by some other observer. Taking it for granted that 
the sense of hearing does exist in Bees, where are 
we to look for the situation of the organ ? Natura- 
lists are not agreed on this point, but the majority 
seem to vest it in the antennae. Kirby and Spence 
notice the analogy borne by antennae to the ears of 
vertebrate animals, such as their corresponding in 
number, and standing out of the head ; and observe 
that no other organ has been found which can be 
supposed to represent the ear. In that case this ap- 
pendage of the head of the Bee must be regarded as 
a compound organ, exercising the functions of both 
hearing and touch. It has already been hinted that 
some observers have regarded it as the organ of 
vision ; and we shall afterwards find that there are 
those who look upon it as the organ of smell. In 
this deficiency of precise knowledge on the subject, 
we may perhaps rest satisfied with the opinion of 
Kirby, that " the antennae, by a peculiar structure, 
may collect notices from the atmosphere, receive 
pulses or vibrations, and communicate them to the 
sensorium, which communications, though not pre- 
cisely to be called hearing, may answer the same 



THE HONEY-BEE. 55 

purpose." The same author gives an anecdote of 
another insect, which goes to prove that the antennge 
are indeed the organs of this sense : — " A little moth 
M'as reposing on my window ; I made a quiet, not 
loud, but distinct noise ; the nearest antennae imme- 
diately moved towards me ; I repeated the noise at 
least a dozen times, and it was followed every time 
by the same motion of that organ, till at length the 
insect being alarmed, became agitated and violent in 
its motions. In this instance it could not be touch, 
since the antennae were not applied to a surface, but 
directed towards the quarters from which the sound 
came, as if to listen/* 

Smellijig. — Of all their senses, that of smell in Bees 
is the most acute. Attracted by the fragrance of the 
flowers, we see them winging their eager way to a 
very considerable distance, in a straight undeviating 
course, and in the very teeth of a strong wind,* in 
search of those plants which promise an abundant 

* It has been said that Bees ballast themselves with sand 

or gravel when in danger of being blown away by the wind. 

The notion was first entertained by Aristotle, and repeated by 

Virgil, to whose poetic imagination such a trait in the habits 

of his favourite insects would be highly grateful : 

Saepe lapillos 
Ut cymbae instabiles, fluctu jactante saburram 
ToUunt : his sese per iiiania nubila librant. 

Pliny has also lent his aid to the currency of this notion ; and 
it is found in Dissertations on the Natural History of Bees, 
as a surprising instance of bee-instinct, notwithstanding the 
corrections of Swammerdam and Reaumur, both of whom have 
shewn that the Mason-Bee has been mistaken for the Honey- 
Bee, the former of whom is often seen hastening through the 
air, loaded with sand and gravel, the materials of its nest. 



56 THE SENSES OF BEES. 

honey-harvest. Very striking proofs of the acuteness 
of this sense may be observed within the limits of 
the apiary. Early in spring, when the bee-master 
begins feeding his colony, he has reason to marvel 
at the instantaneous notice which this organ gives 
them of his approach. Arriving amongst his hives, 
though from the chillness of a spring morning, not a 
bee is seen stirring out of doors, he has not time to 
fill the feeding- troughs from the vessel in his hand, 
before he is surrounded by hundreds; and in the 
space of five minutes or less, the float-board of every 
trough is covered with a dense mass of eager feeders. 
In feeding a newly-lodged swarm during unfavour- 
able weather in summer, it is curious to observe 
through the glass, in pushing in the sliding-trough 
which runs flush with the floor, the motionless hemi- 
sjiherical mass at the ceiling of the hive, becoming 
instantaneously elongated, and changed into the form 
of an inverted living pyramid, having its apex resting 
on the float-board, while a score or two of stragglers, 
who have in the confusion been separated or have 
fallen from the mass above, hasten along the floor, 
snuSing the grateful fragrance, ranging themselves in 
a line on the edge of the trough, and eagerly plung- 
ing their probosces into the liquid. It is to their ex- 
quisite sense of smell also, in all likelihood, that we 
must attribute their capability, of distinguishing friend 
from foe among their own species. If a stranger-bee 
by mistake enter a hive, and this sometimes happens 
in consequence of some slight alteration in the arrange- 
ment of the apiary, his close resemblance to his 



THE HONEY-BEE. 57 

fellow-insects will not secure him from an immediate 
attack from all quarters ; he is detected by a more 
subtle sense than vision^ and instant flight alone can 
save him. Huber, to whose researches we are so 
much indebted in regard to the senses of Bees, has 
made some very conclusive experiments on that of 
smell, all of which we have repeated with precisely 
the same results. Like his, our first experiment was 
to ascertain the acuteness of the sense. He con- 
cealed a vessel with honey behind the shutters of an 
open window, near the apiary. In our experiment, 
a small box containing a portion of honey mingled 
with ale, and covered with a piece of wire-gauze, was 
placed at a distance of 100 yards from the apiary, 
close to the bottom of a hedge, where it was by no 
means conspicuous. In a quarter of an hour, a bee 
alighted on the box, and in a few minutes more, 
while this bee was eagerly exploring and striving to 
gain an entrance, several more joined it. The cover 
was then raised, and admission given j and after the 
first visitors had gone oflf with a bellyful, the feeders 
increased in the space of an hour to hundreds. 

To diversify the trial, Huber procured four small 
boxes, to the apertures of which, large enough to admit 
a bee, he fitted shutters or valves, made of card-paper, 
which it was necessary should be forced open in order 
to gain admission. Honey being put into them, they 
were placed at the distance of 200 paces from the 
apiary. In half an hour, bees were seen arriving; care- 
fully traversing the boxes, they soon discovered the 
openings, pressed against the valves, and reached the 



58 THE SENSES OF BEES. 

honey. This is a striking instance of the delicacy of 
smell in these insects, as not only was the honey 
quite concealed from view, but its odorous effluvia 
from its being covered and disguised in the experi- 
ment, could not be much diffused. We repeated 
successfully the same experiment. In fact, after the 
first trial, we had no doubt of the issue of the second ; 
for if once the sense of smell in the Bees ascertained 
the existence and situation of the honey, we had seen 
enough of their ingenuity in other cases, not to doubt 
their success in obtaining entrance. In endeavouring 
to ascertain the precise situation of the organ, there 
is considerable difficulty, and our curiosity cannot 
easily be gratified without some sacrifice of bee-life. 
Huberts experiment to ascertain this pointy is full of 
interest, and we recommend a perusal of the account 
of it as detailed in his work. He dipped a pencil in 
oil of turpentine, a substance very disagreeable to 
insects, and presented it to the thorax, the stigmata, 
the abdomen, the antennae, the eyes, and the pro- 
boscis, without the bee betraying the slightest symp- 
tom of uneasy feeling. It was otherwise when he 
held it to the mouth ; it started, left the honey by 
which it had been enticed, and was on the point of 
taking flight when the pencil was withdrawn. He 
next filled the mouth with flour-paste, when the in- 
sect seemed to have lost the sense of smell altogether. 
Honey did not attract it, nor did offensive odours, 
even the formidable turpentine, annoy it. The organ 
of smell, therefore, appears to reside in the mouth, 
or in the parts depending on it. To those who 



THE HONEY-BEE. 59 

may wish to repeat this experiment, vve would 
recommend that they previously deprive the bee under 
operation of a portion of its sting, which may be easily 
done by forcing the insect to extrude it, and then 
snipping it oil about the middle with a pair of scissors ; 
the excision will not vitally injure the insect, and 
will give confidence to the experimenter. 

We cannot conclude this disquisition on the sense 
of smell in Bees, without gratifying our readers by 
extracting from Dr. Bevan's work, a remarkable in- 
stance of its acuteness and delicacy ; asd which had 
been communicated to him, b)^ the son of the gentle- 
man who is the subject of it. It is generally believed 
that bees have an antipathy to particular individuals, 
arising, probably from some peculiar odour about 
them, which, though not discernible by, or unpleasant 
to man, may be so to this sensitive insect. "M. de 
Hofer, Conseilleur d' Etat du Grand Due de Baden, 
had for years been a proprietor and admirer of Bees, 
and rivalled Wildman, in the power he possessed of 
approaching them with impunity. He would at any 
time search for the queen, and taking hold of her 
gently, place her on his hand. But he was unfor- 
tunately attacked with a violent fever, and long con- 
fined by it. On his recovery, he attempted to resume 
his favourite amusement among the Bees, returning 
to them with all that confidence and pleasure which 
he had felt on former occasions ; Avhen, to his great 
surprise and disappointment, he discovered that he 
was no longer in possession of their favour ; and 
that instead of being received by them as an old 



60 THE SENSES OF BEES. 

• 

friend, he was treated as a trespasser ; nor was he 
ever able after this period to perform any operation 
with them, or to approach within their precincts, 
without exciting their anger. Here then it is pretty 
evident that some change had taken place in the 
Counsellor's secretions in consequence of the fever, 
which though not noticeable by his friends, was 
offensive to the olfactory nerves of the Bees." * 

Functions of the inmates of a hive. — A hive con- 
sists of the Queen, or mother-bee, the Workers vary- 
ing in numbers, from 10,000, to 20,000 or 80,000, 
and the Males or Drones, from 700 to double that 
number. 

Functions of the Queen. — (see PI. I. Fig. 1.) — 
The Queen is the parent of the hive ; and her sole 
province and occupation consist in laying the eggs, 
from which originate those prodigious multitudes 
that people a hive, and emigrate from it in the 
course of one summer. In the height of the season, 
her fertility is truly astonishing, as she lays not fewer 
than 200 eggs per day, and even more when the 
season is particularly warm and genial, and flowers 
are abundant ; and this laying continues, though at a 
gradually diminishing rate, till the approach of cold 
weather in October. So early as February, she re- 
sumes her labours in the same department, and sup- 
plies the great blank made in the population by 
the numerous casualties that take place between the 
end of summer and commencement of spring. Her 
great laying of the eggs of workers begins generally 
* Bevan's Honey-Bee, p. 304. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 61 

about the iiftli day of her age ; and she continues 
to deposit eggs of the same kind for the succeeding 
eleven months; after which she commences laying 
those of males. It is during the depositing of 
these last, that the Bees are led by their instinct to 
lay the foundation of royal cells, in which, if the 
population be abundant, the Queen deposits eggs at 
intervals of one or two days between each. In the 
operation of laying, which we have a thousand times 
witnessed, the Queen puts her head into a cell, and 
remains in that position about a second or two, as if 
to ascertain whether it is in a fit state to receive the 
deposit. She then withdraws her head, curves her 
body downwards, inserts her abdomen into the cell, 
and turns half round on herself; having kept this 
position for a few seconds, she withdraws her body, 
having in the mean time laid an egg. The egg itself, 
which is attached to the bottom of the cell by a glu- 
tinous matter with which it is imbued, is of a slender 
oval shape, slightly curved, rather more pointed 
in the lower end than in the other. She passes on 
from cell to cell, furnishing each with the germ 
of a future inhabitant ; and during these proceedings, 
she receives the most marked and affectionate atten- 
tion from the workers. She is seen continually 
surrounded by a circle of them, who caress her fondly 
with their antennae, and occasionally supply her with 
food fi'om their probosces. This appearance has 
given rise to the notion commonly entertained, and 
asserted even by some Naturalists, that the Queen is 
followed in her progress through the hive by a nima- 



62 THE SENSES OF BEES. 

ber of her subjects formed in a circle round her, and 
these of course have been regarded as the Queen's 
body guards. The truth is, however that her Bee- 
majesty has no attendants, strictly speaking ; none 
who follow in her train ; but wherever she moves, 
the workers whom she encounters in her progress 
instantly and hurriedly clear the way before her, and 
all turning their heads towards their approaching 
sovereign, lavish their caresses upon her with much 
apparent affection, and touch her softly with their 
antennae ; and these circumstances, which may be 
observed every hour in the day, in a properly con- 
structed glass hive, have given rise to the idea of 
guards. The moment she has left the circle, the 
bees who had surrounded her instantly resume their 
labours, and she passes on, receiving from every 
group in her way the homage due to a Mother and a 
Queen. On one occasion we gave her subjects an 
opportunity of testifying their courage in her defence 
as well as their affection and zeal. Observing her 
laying eggs in the comb next to the glass of the hive, 
we gently but quickly opened the pane, and endea- 
voured to seize her. But no sooner did the removal 
of the glass afford room, — (while shut it was almost 
in contact with her backj) — and before we could 
accomplish our purpose, they threw their bodies 
upon her to the number of at least a hundred, and 
formed a cone over her of such magnitude that she 
could not be less than two inches distant from any 
part of the surface. We dispersed the mass with 
our finger, and got hold of her precious person^ and 



THE HONEY-BEE. 63 

kept lookiug at her for some minutes before we re- 
stored the captive to her alarmed defenders. It is 
remarkable that this violence was not resented by 
them ; though they coursed over our hands in scores, 
while we kept hold of their mistress, not one indivi- 
dual used its sting. The all engrossing object was 
the Queen. They may be handled, and roughly too, 
with like impunity when they are swarming. Intent 
then only on securing a habitation for themselves and 
their sovereign, they seem incapable of entertaining 
at the same moment two different ideas, if we may 
use such an expression, and their natural irritability 
is not awakened to exertion. 

There is a fact connected with the instinct of the 
Queen in laying her eggs, which deserves particular 
notice, and which we have not seen stated by any 
other writer on the subject of Bees.* When she 
has laid a cluster of eggs to the number of thirty or 
forty, more or less according to circumstances, on 
one side of the comb ; instead of laying in all the 
empty cells in the same quarter, she removes to the 
other side, and lays in the cells which are directly 
opposite to those which she has just supplied with 
eggs, and, generally speaking, in none else. This 
mode of proceeding is of a piece with that wise ar- 
rangement which runs through all the operations of 
the Bees, and is another effect of that remarkable 
instinct by which they are guided. For as they clus- 
ter closely in those parts of the comb which are filled 
with brood, in order to concentrate the heat neces- 

* The writer stated this fact several years ago in the Edin- 
burgh Philosophical Journal. 



64 THE SENSES OF BEES. 

sary for their being hatched, the heat will of course 
penetrate to the other side, and some portion of it 
would be wasted if the cells on that side were either 
empty, or filled only with honey. But when both 
sides are filled with brood, and covered with hive- 
bees, the heat is confined to the spot where it is ne- 
cessary, and is turned to full account in bringing the 
young to maturity. See PI. IX. Fig. 1. in which 
o, b, c, represent that part of the comb in an experi- 
mental hive where the observation was made, which 
was filled with brood, the rest of the square being, 
with the exception of the uncoloured part, sealed 
honey. On the opposite side, the brood comb was 
exactly of the same figure, insomuch that on the 
narrowest inspection I could hardly discern one cell 
which contained brood while its opposite contained 
honey ; e, Royal Cell, containing a larva nearly ready 
to be sealed up ; /) form of the Royal Cell at the time 
of the egg being deposited in it ; g^ ditto, when sealed, 
and just before hatching takes place ; «, ditto, after 
the young Queen has been hatched ; A, ditto, with a 
ragged opening in the broadside through which the 
dead body of a young Queen, destroyed by the Queen 
regnant, has been dragged out by the bees. 

The mutual aversion of Queens is a striking feature 
in the natural history of this insect ; and though not 
perhaps strictly in place, one extraordinary effect of 
it may be mentioned here. Their mutual enmity 
may be truly said to be an in-born disposition with 
them, for no sooner has the first of the race in a 
hive about to throw off a second swarm, escaped 
from her own cradle, than she hurries away in search 



THE HONEY-BEE. 05 

of those of lier rivals, and, as will be afterwards de- 
scribed, exerts herself with the most impetuous 
eagerness to destroy them. When two Queens hap- 
pen to emerge from their cells at the same time, a 
pitched battle takes place, which ends in the death 
of one of the combatants. We have never witness- 
ed this interesting • exhibition of bee- warfare, — this 
duellum, as described by Huber, but we have no 
doubt of its being a fact, after the very imequivocal 
proofs we have witnessed of tliis mutual aversion, and 
particularly the instance to be afterwards stated. 

Functions of the Worker-Bee — (See PI. I. Fig. 3 ) 
— The workers, to the number of 10,000, 20,000, 
and even 30,000, constitute the great mass of the 
population, and on them devolve the whole labours 
of the establishment. Theirs is the office of search- 
ing for and collecting the precious fluid which not 
only furnishes their daily food, as well as that of 
their young, and the sui'plus of which is laid up for 
winter stores, but also the materials from w^iicli they 
rear their beautiful combs. In the httle basket-sha- 
ped cavity in their hind-legs, they bring home the 
pollen or farinaceous dust of fioAvers, kneaded by the 
help of the morning dew into tiny balls, which form 
an important ingredient in the nourishment of the 
brood ; and also the propolis or adhesive gum ex- 
tracted from willows, &c. with w^hich they attach 
their combs to the upper part and sides of the hive, 
and stop every crevice that might admit the winter's 
cold. Exploring a glass hive in a soft spring morn- 
ing, and following with his eye a Bee loaded v^ith 

£ 



66 THE FUNCTIONS OP BEES. 

farina^ the observer will perceive the little active 
forager^ on her arrival in the interior, hurrying over 
the surface of the comb in search of a proper cell in 
which to deposit her burden ; and having found one, 
fastening herself by the two fore-feet on its superior 
border, then bending her body a little forward, that 
her hinder feet may catch hold of the opposite edge 
of the cell. In this position she is next seen thrust- 
ing back her second pair of feet, one on each side, 
and sweeping with them from top to bottom along 
the two hinder legs, where the farina balls are fixed, 
and by this means detaching them from the hairy 
linings of the cavities, and depositing them in the 
cell. To the workers, also, are committed the va- 
rious offices of guarding the entrance of the hive by 
night and day, during the honey season ; of repulsing 
marauders — of keeping their abode free from all 
offensive matters — of renewing the air within by an 
ingenious mode of ventilation — of replacing a lost 
Queen, and of destroying the drones at the decline 
of the honey season. Receiving from nature these 
weighty charges, they labour assiduously to fulfil 
them ; and, wliile each member of the community 
acts by the impulse of its individual instinct, it works 
less for private than for the general good. These 
labours appear unceasing ; yet do the weary labour- 
ers sometimes snatch an interval of repose. During 
the busy season, w^e have seen hundreds of the 
workers retiring into the cells, and exhibiting all the 
marks of profound sleep. This fact is very easily 
observable, especially in those cells which are con- 



THE HONEY-BEE. 67 

structed — as sometimes happens — against the glass, 
and where that substance forms one side of the cell* 
There they are^ the fatigued labourers, stretched at 
full length, with their heads at the bottom, and eveiy 
limb apparently in a relaxed state, while the little 
body is seen heaving gently from the process of respira- 
tion. Huber thinks he has ascertained that there are 
two kinds of workers in a hive, one of which he calls 
Wax-workers, and the other Nurses. The diiference 
between these Bees had probably been observed by 
Aristotle and Pliny. The former speaks of '' opti- 
mum genus apum, quce breves, varke, et in rotundi- 
tatem compactiles ; secundce quce longce et vespis si^ 
miles." Pliny uses similar language. It does not 
appear, however, that these naturalists were acquaint- 
ed with the different functions — if the diiference 
really does exist — of the two classes. The office of 
the first class, according to Huber, is not only to 
collect honey — which both kinds do — but also to 
elaborate the wax, and construct the combs. The 
particular function of the other, is to take care of the 
young. They may be distinguished in entering the 
hive, by carefully examining their shape ; the wax- 
workers having their bellies somewhat cylindrical, 
w^hile those of the nurses retain their ovoidal figure. 
The anatomical structure of the two is said to be 
different, and the capacity of stomach not the same ; 
so that the one species is incapable of fulfilling all the 
functions of the other. Huber has also directed our 
attention to a class of workers, which he calls Black 



kl_ . 



68 THE FUNCTIONS OF BEES. 

Bees,^' and which he first observed in 1809, and on 
several other occasions from that time to the year 
1813. In every thing they bear a perfect resem- 
blance to their fellovv-Avorkers, except in colour, which 
in them is a deep black. He describes them as per- 
secuted by the other workers, and finally expelled 
the hives, or destroyed. We have noticed them, 
though rarely ; perhaps not more than one or two in 
a season. The other Bees did not molest them, as 
far as we observed, nor indeed seem in any way sen- 
sible of their presence. It is not improbable, as 
Kirby and Spence conjecture, that they are merely 
aged Bees, and that their deeper colour arises from 
the hair or down, with which the young are so thickly 
clothed, being worn off their bodies. 

In describing the functions of the V/orking Bee, 
it would be improper to pass over unnoticed the fact, 
that it sometimes exercises the functions of a mother. 
To account for this apparent anomaly, we must 
remember that it has been ascertained by minutely 
accurate dissection, that all the workers 2iXe females, 
though of imperfect organization, — a fact confirmed 
by the very circumstance we are now discussing. 
We must also keep in mind, that the larva of a Queen 
is nourished with food of a different kind from that 
of common Bees ; and this difference, in conjunction 
with a more roomy cell, has, in the opinion of natu- 
ralists, the effect of expanding the ovarium, and 
qualifying her to become a mother. It is evident, 
* Huber, 235. 



THE KONEY-BEE. 69 

therefore, that, if the larva of a common Bee were 
fed with the royal jelly, the imperfection in her bodily 
organs would, as far at least as depended on the 
nature of the food, he removed, and she would he- 
come capable of laying eggs. Now this does occa- 
sionally take place; some of the royal food is dropped, 
probably by accident, into some of the cells adjoining 
that of the Queen, and the Bees therein reared 
acquire the power of laying eggs. This fact was 
discovered by the naturalist Riem, and has been con- 
firmed by Huber. There is, however, a very ma- 
terial and hitherto unaccounted for difference between 
these fertile workers and perfect Queens, — the former 
lay the eggs of males only. We would certainly have 
expected, a j^^'iori, that a difference between them 
should exist ; because the workers have fed on the 
royal jelly only for a short time, and because their 
birth-place is so much smaller. But we cannot easilv 
conceive how these circumstances should be the cause 
of their laying only male-eggs. In truth, it appears 
to be one of those m3^steries in bee -economy 
which, with all our researches on the subject, we 
cannot yet unravel. These fertile workers are never 
found in any hives but such as have lost their natural 
Queen. 

The natural term of the worker's existence does 
not extend, we think, beyond six or eight months. 
It is the opinion of Dr. Bevan that all the Bees brought 
into existence at the Queen's great laying in spring, 
die before winter. But many never reach that period. 
Showers of rain, violent blasts of wind, sudden changes 



70 THE FUNCTIONS OF BEES. 

of atmosphere, destroy them in hundreds. In tlje 
clear cold mornings and evenings of autumn, their 
eagerness for foraging entices them abroad early and 
late; when, alighting on the ground, many are chilled, 
and quickly perish. And should they escape the 
blighting atmosphere at the close of autumn, a bright 
sunshine in a winter day, when the ground perhaps is 
covered with snow, brings them abroad in multitudes, 
and the half of them never return. From these causes, 
independent of the numbers which fall a prey to 
enemies, a swarm which in July amounted to fifteen 
or twenty thousand, will, by the following February 
or March, have dwindled to a mere handful. It is 
otherwise with the Queen ; going seldom abroad, she 
is little exposed to accidents. Her natural life is 
prolonged to several years, though the precise extent 
has not been accurately ascertained. In 1 834 we 
had one in our possession, which we had every rea- 
son to believe was not less than four years old. 

Functions of the Male or Drone, — (see PI. I. Fig. 
2.) — The sole office of the Male, or at least the pri- 
mary one, is to pair with the Queen. He is the 
father of the hive. Indolent and luxurious, he tEikes 
no part in the internal operations of the domicile, 
and never leaves it vrith a view of sharing in the 
labours of the field. When he does venture abroad, 
it is only in the finest weather, and during the 
warmest part of the day, at which time the young 
Queens are instinctively led to go out in search of the 
male. He is easily distinguished from the workers 
by his larger size, by his heavy motion in flight, ana 



THE HONEY-BEE. 71 

by Ills loud humming sound. We have said that 
the primary function of the drones is to perpetuate 
the race of Bees by pairing with the Queen,, but some 
Naturahsts have assigned them a secondary office, 
namely, that of contributing by their numbers to the 
heat of the hive, and thus aiding in bringing the brood 
to maturity. In some parts of the continent, accord- 
ingly, Feburier tells us, they have received the name 
of Hatchers. There are occasionally found Drones 
of a small size in hives where the impregnation of 
the Queen has been retarded. In such circumstances, 
her instinct, as we shall have occasion to shew in the 
following chapter, is so impaired, that she lays her 
eggs indiscriminately in all kinds of cells, — those of 
males sometimes in the cells of workers. The con- 
sequence is, that these males, when hatched^ are 
diminutive in size, having been cramped in their 
growth by the smallness of their birth-place. 

The life of this vir gregis is extremely short ; the 
favoured lover perishes soon after his union with the 
female, and thus anticipates, though only by a short 
period, the destruction which awaits his race. So 
early as the beginning of August, the Bees, as if 
wishing to apply " the preventive check" to a super- 
abundant idle population, begin to manifest deadly in- 
tentions towards them ; and the unfortunate victims, 
as if to derive consolation from one another's society, 
or perhaps driven together by their irascible supe- 
riors, may be seen about that period clustering closely 
together in some corner of the combs, where they 
remain without motion, and without once venturing 



72 THE FUNCTIONS OF BEES, 

to approach the provision-cells. Thus weakened by 
hunger and captivity, and disqualified for resistance 
by the want of a sting, they fall an easy prey to 
their merciless assailants; and a scene of carnage 
takes place which it is difficult to describe. The 
unhappy wretches are seen driven to the bottom of 
the hive, pursued with such fury/ that, in spite of 
their strength, which is greatly superior to that of 
their persecutors, and which enables them to drag 
two or three of their assailants along the board, and 
even to fly off* with them, they are unable to avoid 
the mortal thrust of their formidable stings, and ex- 
pire instantaneously from the eflfects of the poison. 
But death overtakes them in various forms ; for 
their enemies sometimes seize them by the wings, 
and with their stronoj mandibles maw them at the 
roots, and disable them from flying. They may then 
be seen in numbers crawling on the ground, where 
they perish from the cold, or are trampled under 
foot, and devoured by birds or frogs. Such as escape 
for a while, may be seen flying from destruction, 
lighting on the shrubs and flowers to enjoy a mo- 
ment's respite from their terrors ; or buzzing about 
our windows, or wandering about from hive to hive, 
into one of which they no sooner enter, than certain 
death awaits them. Nay, so bitter is the fury of 
their tormentors, that, not satisfied with destroying 
these unhappy beings themselves, they tear from 
the cells such of the doomed race as are yet in the 
state of larvae, and sucking from their bodies, with 
instinctive economy, the fluids they contain, cast the 



THE HONEY-BEE. 73 

lifeless remains out of the hive. There are cases, 
however, in which this destruction of males does 
not take place. " In hives that have lost their 
queen/' says Huber, '^'^the males are spared; and, 
while a savage massacre rages in other hives, they 
here find an asylum. They are tolerated and fed, 
and many are seen even in the middle of January." 
The cause of this may perhaps be looked for in the 
additional heat which they would generate in winter ; 
or perhaps they may be preserved for the purpose of 
pairing with a new queen. 

On the Impregnation of the Queen-Bee. — In look- 
ing into a hive in spring or summer, the Queen will 
be seen laying eggs in the cells ; in the smaller cells, 
those of workers, and in the larger those of males or 
drones. These eggs, if examined on the fourth dav 

CO ^ • 

from their being deposited, Avill be found hatched, 
and a small worm produced, which is floating in a 
whitish liquid, ascertained to be food introduced for 
the nourishment of the infant brood ; and in due 
time a perfect bee emerges from the cell. But how 
is this living animal generated ? The Queen lays 
the egg ^vithout doubt, and the insect is evolved 
from it ; but how is the egg, fecundated or rendered 
fertile ? Has the Queen had personal union with 
the male ? No one can speak positively to such a 
fact ; by what other means, then, is this effect pro- 
duced ? 

The impregnation of the Queen-Bee is a branch of 
Natural History which has given rise to more dis- 
cussion than almost any other fact, connected with 



7-i THE FUNCTIONS OF BEES. 

the nature of the insect. And indeed the difficulty, 
we might almost say impossibiliti/ of obtaining any 
thing like ocular evidence on the subject, will readily 
account for the diversity of opinion that has hitherto 
prevailed. And we should hope that this difficulty 
alone, and not any preconceived theory or unreason- 
able prejudice, is the cause of that determined per- 
tinacity with which the discoveries and conclusions 
of Huber, on this subject, are still in some instances 
rejected. That justly celebrated Naturalist, insti- 
tuted a set of experiments on the subject of the 
queen's impregnation, the result of which leads to the 
conclusion that it takes place in the air. For an ac- 
count of these experiments, we must refer our read- 
ers to his Observations, page 18. 

Tletarded Impregnation. — There is a fact connect- 
ed with this part of the natural history of the mother 
bee which involves great difficulties. The fact itself 
was discovered by Huber, but its cause he was unable 
to develope, and no succeeding naturalist has been 
able to free it from the obscurity in which he has left 
it, — we mean the effects of Retarded Impregnation. 
These effects are such as we could hardly credit, were 
not the fact confirmed by numerous experiments. If 
impregnation be delayed longer than twenty days 
from the Queen's birth, the consequence is that none 
but male eggs are laid, even during the whole of the 
Queen's life. This phenomenon has baffled every 
attempt to explain its cause. ^^ There are mysteries," 
observes Feburier, ^' in the operations of nature, both 
jn reference to the rational and irrational creation. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 75 

which will, probably, for ever remain inscrutable to 
man." In the natural state of things, that is, when 
fecundation has not been postponed, the Queen lays 
the eggs of workers in forty-six hours after her union 
with the male, and continues for the subsequent eleven 
months to produce these alone, and it is only after this 
period that a considerable laying of the eggs of drones 
commences. These male eggs require eleven months 
to attain to maturity, but, under the effects of retarda- 
tion, they are matured in forty-six hours. The eggs of 
workers,'which, in the usual state of things, w^ould have 
been laid first, never come to light ; their vitality has 
been destroyed by some vitiation which has taken place, 
and the cause of which has not yet been discovered. 
Huber, in reasoning on the subject, and contemplating 
the difficulty attending it, declares it to be " an abyss 
in which he is lost." There is another circumstance 
which he has not adverted to, and which seems to 
increase these difficulties. He asserts that before a 
Queen commences her great laying of male-eggs, she 
must be eleven months old. But he acknowledges 
that ''^a Queen, hatched in spring, will perhaps lay 
fifty or sixty eggs of drones in whole, during the course 
of the ensuing summer."* We know this to be true 
from our own experience ; and also as the usual con- 
sequence of this appearance of male-eggs, that the 
Bees commence building royal cells, — the Queen lays 
in them, and swarming takes place. Now this partial 
laying of drone-eggs takes place only in the case of 
very early swarms ; and if the weather be unfavour- 
• Huber, page 169. 



76 THE BROOD. 

able, it does not happen even in them. But if in the 
natural state, the space of eleven months be necessary 
for the male-eggs to acquire that degree of increment 
they must have attained when laid, how are we to 
explain the fact of two or three score of these male- 
eggs making their appearance before the Mothef-bee 
is six weeks old ? Leaving this matter in the obscu- 
rity which we cannot dispel, we have only farther to 
observe, that in every case of retarded impregnation 
the instinct of the Queen appears to be greatly im- 
paired. She lays her eggs indiscriminately in drone 
and worker cells ; now and then even in royal cells ; 
and does not evince that jealousy and irritable temper- 
ament towards her rivals, which, in the natural state, 
characterize the Queen. 

Of the Bi'ood. — In forty-six hours after impregna- 
tion, the Queen-bee, as already noticed, begins to lay 
the eggs of workers, and continues to do so without 
interruption throughout the season, at the rate of 
between 100 and 200 a day, unless cold weather in- 
tervene, when her operations are suspended, as well 
as the hatching retarded of the eggs already laid. 
The fruitfulness of the mother-bee is indeed aston- 
ishing. It has been computed that the numbers pro- 
duced in a hive by one Queen during the laying sea- 
son, amount to 100,000; and we are satisfied the 
computation is correct. In the beginning of the year 
it is a tolerably good stock hive which possesses a 
population of 2000 or 3000. Yet that same hive 
shall in June throw off swarms amounting to 40,000 
or 50,000 ; in many cases the first swarm itself, and 



THE KCXEY BEE. 77 

in some even the cast or second swarm throws off a 
colony of 10,000 or 12,000 ; and still, at the end of 
liarvest, this original stock-hive shall exhibit a popu- 
lation of 18,000 or 20,000. Add to all this, in some 
instances, though rare, a first swarm throws off tico 
colonies. 

Before depositing her e^^^ the Queen carefully 
examines the cell, inserting her head into it, and 
keeping it there for a second or two ; and, as already 
stated (page 63), after having laid a few eggs on one 
side of the comb, proceeds to the other side, and with 
a view probably of economizing heat, supplies the 
corresponding cells upon that side. Her impatience 
or necessity to commence laying is sucli, that in a 
newly-established hive eggs will be found before there 
are three inches square of comb constructed, and even 
before the cells have attained their full depth. And 
in a well-peopled hive, even during winter, and while 
the temperature is chilled by the frosts and snows of 
January, and the bleak winds of the following month, 
the indefatigable Mother-bee is found busied in de- 
positing eggs. We have said that the Queen begins 
laying eggs forty-six hours after impregnation. This 
does not hold true invariably. A sudden change of 
temperature may prolong the interval to a very con- 
siderable extent. Huber had a Queen impregnated 
in October, which, on account of the inclemency of 
the season, did not begin laying till the following 
spring. 

The eggs, when laid, remain fixed on the superior 
angle of the cell, to which they are attached by a 



78 THE BROOD. 

viscous matter covering them_, for three clays ; on the 
fourth, the shell, or thin enveloping memhrane, 
bursts, and a small lively worm is deposited at the 
bottom. The nursing-bees instantly enter upon their 
vocation, and administer a copious supply of liquid 
food — of which farina, honey, and probably water, 
are the ingredients. As the larva increases in growth, 
the attention of the Bees in nourishing it is augmented, 
and indeed unremitting ; for at whatever time we in- 
spect a brood-comb, we shall observe hundreds of 
nurses with their bodies inserted in the cells supply- 
ing the wants of the infant progeny. Although in 
the vermicular state, and consequently without feet, 
the larvae are capable of moving in a spiral direction. 
During the first three days, their motion is so slow as 
to be scarcely perceptible, but it afterwards becomes 
more evident, and they have been observed to per- 
form two complete revolutions in less than two hours. 
The slightest movement of the nurse-bees approach- 
ing to minister to their wants, is sufficient to attract 
them to their food, which they devour most vora- 
ciously, and it is unsparingly lavished upon them. 
At first the liquor is nearly insipid, but acquires gra- 
dually a perceptible flavour of honey, and becomes 
more and more saccharine and transparent in pro- 
portion as the larva advances in growth. ^' It is in- 
describable," says Feburier, "■ the care which the 
workers lavish on these little nurslings, towards whom 
they seem to cherish the tenderest attachment. A 
comb filled with brood, and placed in an empty hive, 
never fails to retain them there, to the utter disregard 



THE HONEY BEE. 79 

of the loss of their stores. The tenderest mother 
could not watch over her children with more affec- 
tion, nor supply them with nourishment more impar- 
tially, or in greater ahundance. At the same time it 
is done without waste, for the quantity is so propor- 
tioned to the demand, that none of it remains in the 
cells where the larvae undergo their transformation to 
the nymph state."* 

At the moment of being hatched, the insect pre- 
sents the appearance of a small straight worm, com- 
posed of several ventral wings. It quickly grows 
so as to touch the sides of the cell, when it con- 
tracts its body, and coils itself into a semicircular 
figure, and continues enlarging its dimensions till the 
extremities meet, and form a complete ring. In this 
state it continues, receiving food from its nurses for 
five days, when it ceases to eat ; its supplies are, of 
course, cut off, and the bees proceed to seal up the 
cell M'itli a waxen cover, of a brownish colour, and 
slightly convex. Thus left to itself, the larva begins 
spinning around its body, after the manner of the 
silk-worm, a fine silken film or cocoon, which com- 
pletely envelops it. "^ The silken thread employed 
in forming this covering," Kirby and Spence tell us, 
'^ proceeds from the middle part of the under lip, and 
is in fact composed of two threads, gummed together, 
as they issue from the two adjoining orifices of the 
spinner." In the formation of its cocoon, the larva 
occupies thirty-six hours, and in three days after, it 
is metamorphosed into a nymph or pupa — terms ap- 
■^ Traite des Abeilles. 



80 THE BROOD. 

plied to the mummy-like state to which the larva is 
subjected, previous to its becoming a perfect insect, 
or imago, as it is termed. 

During this state of concealment, various changes 
happen to the enclosed insect.'"^ The first change in 
its situation is its ceasing to continue in that coiled 
position in which it originally lay at the bottom of 
the cell, and extending itself along its whole length 
with its head in the direction of the mouth of the 
cell. The head begins to appear from the inert- 
looking mass, having a small protuberance, probably 
the rudiment of the proboscis ; the first lineaments 
of the feet also appear, though of diminutive size. 
After the head is formed, and the proboscis prolonged, 
all the other parts display themselves successively, 
and the worm is changed into the perfect insect, ex- 
cept that its outer covering is yet white and soft, and 
has not that dark scaly texture which, as a proper 
coat of defence, it afterwards acquires. By this trans- 
formation "the larva becomes divested of its cocoon, 
M'hich is attached so closely to the internal surface 
of the cell, that it appears to form part of its substance, 
and adds considerably to its thickness. These linings 
are sometimes found to the number of seven or eiffht, 
adhering to the sides of the cell, and have an injurious 
effect often, diminishing, as they do, the cell's capa- 
city, and exciting, by their strong smell, the attacks 
of moths and other enemies. The number of linings 
found adhering to a cell, and which may be disjoined 
by soaking; the comb in water, indicates the number 
* Wildman. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 81 

of bees to which it has been the birth-place.* The 
Bee, thus stripped of its silken envelope, and having 
all its parts unfolded by degrees, and changed through 
a succession of colours, from a dull white to black, 
arrives at the state of a perfect insect on the 20th 
day, counting from the moment the egg is laid. She 
then eagerly commences the operation of cutting 
through, with her mandibles, the cover of her cell, 
and in half an hour succeeds in escaping from her 
prison. On quitting her cradle she appears, for a 
few seconds, drowsy and listless, but soon assumes 
the agility natural to the race — and on the same day 
on which she has emerged from her prison, sets out 
Avith her seniors to engage in the labours of the field. 
Some of the ancient Bee-masters enlarge on the 
attention paid by the seniors to the young worker on 
emerging from her prison, describing them as licking 
her body, supplying her with food, and seeming to 
instruct her in what is necessary to render her a use- 
ful member of the community. These descriptions 
have been repeated by succeeding writers on the sub- 
ject; and the existence of these amiable traits in the 
kind nurses of the young, is taken for granted as an 
indubitable fact in their natural history. We have 
reason, in consequence of repeated observations, to 

* The late Dr. Barclay of Edinburgh, imagined he had 
discovered that the partitions of the bee-cells are dotible, and 
regarded this circumstance as an additional instance of the 
wonderful architectural powers of the Bee. It is not impro- 
bable that what he considered to be separate laminie of wax, 
are but the silken linings of the cells. 

F 



82 THE BROOD. 

disbelieve the alleged fact, and must, in accordance 
with the truth, withhold from our favourites the un- 
merited eulogiums they have received on this head. 
They are, in fact, in this particular, harsh and unfeel- 
ing in the extreme. In hundreds of instances have 
we seen and pitied the infant insect, when after having 
long struggled to get out of its cradle, it has at last 
succeeded so far as to extrude the head ; and when 
labouring with the most eager impatience, and on the 
very point of extricating the shoulders also, which 
would at once secure its exit, a dozen or two of 
vi''orkers, in following their avocations, trample with- 
out ceremony over the struggling creature, which is 
then forced, for the safety of its head, to pop quickly 
down into its cell, and wait till the unfeeling crowd 
pass on, before it can renew its efforts to escape. 
Again and again are the same impatient exertions re- 
peated by the same individual, and with similar mor- 
tifying interruptions, before it succeeds in obtaining 
its freedom. Not the slightest attention or sympathy 
is observable on the part of the workers in these cir- 
cumstances ; nor did we ever, in a single instance, 
witness the kind parental cares which seem to owe 
their existence to the fancy of the writers alluded to. 
During the larva-stage, as we have shewn, the soli- 
citude of the workers about the welfare and nourish- 
ment of their infant charge is extreme ; but from the 
moment they have sealed up the cell, and while the 
larva is undergoing its transformation, they seem to 
cease from every thing like individual ixttention ; and 
though when a brood-comb is meddled with^ their 



THE HONEY-BEE. 83 

Utmost ire is kindled against the invader, as far as 
concerns the reception of the newly-hatched insect, 
and its introduction to the duties and avocations of 
the Bee-community, they appear altogether selfish 
and indifferent. There is another case in which this 
indifference appears very striking : a sudden change 
of weather about the end of autumn, from a mild 
temperature to raw frost, has such au immediate 
effect on the brood, that it is not uncommon to ob- 
serve a young bee, which shall have so far succeeded 
in breaking its prison, as to extricate its head, and 
nearly its shoulders, yet perishing from cold in this 
situation, without the slightest effort on the part of 
the workers to save the life of a companion whose 
rearing has already cost them so much labour. 

Immediately after the young bee has issued from 
the cell, the workers hasten to clean it out, clear 
away the ragged remains of the cover, fortify it anew 
^^•ith the usual strong bordering of wax, and thus pre- 
pare it for the reception of another egg^ or of honey, 
or farina. 

AVe have hitherto confined our observations to the 
progress of a worker, from the egg to the state of the 
perfect insect. The same process takes place in the 
case of the Males and of the Queen, though with 
some difference as to the time occupied in the trans- 
formation. Like those of the common bees, the eggs 
of Males are hatched in three days ; the larva state 
continues six and a half days, and after having formed 
their cocoon, and been metamorphosed into nymphs. 



84 



THE BROOD. 



tliey attain to the state of perfect insects on the 
twenty-fourth day. 

We may briefly notice here the statement of Huber 
respecting the order in which the different kinds of 
eggs are arranged in the ovarium of the Queen, and 
the law which regulates her laying. He says, that 
" nature does not allow the Queen the choice of the 
eggs she is to lay ;" that " it is ordained she shall, at 
a certain time pf the year, produce those of males, 
and, at another time, the eggs of workers ; an order 
which cannot be inverted;" that ''the eggs are not 
indiscriminately mixed in the ovaries of the Queen, 
but arranged so that at a particular season she can 
lay only a certain kind;" that "she can lay no male 
eggs until those of the workers, occupying the first 
place in the oviducts, are discharged."* We do 
not mean to question this statement, as holding true 
generally, but we think it made in terms too unquali- 
fied, and that there are palpable and frequent excep- 
tions. He has himself acknowledged elsewhere that 
a Queen hatched in spring will sometimes lay fifty or 
sixty eggs of males during the course of the ensuing 
summer, and we have repeatedly witnessed the fact. 
INow, this takes place only in certain circumstances, 
and under certain conditions, namely, that the family 
of the Queen so laying shall have been a very early 
swarm, that it shall abound in population, and that 
the season shall be genial, and the secretion of honey 
in the flowers plentiful. In such a favourable junc- 
ture of circumstances, it almost invariably happens 
* Huber, 44 and 136. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 85 

that the Queen lays male eggs, and that, as the natu- 
ral consequence, royal cells are huilt, in which she 
lays, and, in due time, she leads off a swarm. "Now, 
does not this fact seem to imply that there is no such 
arbitrary an-angement of the several kinds of eggs as 
Huber imagines ? and if it would be stretchinor the 
inference too far to say, that the Queen has the power 
of laying those of males or of workers as circumstances 
may require, — does it not imply that the statement of 
Huber may admit of very important and frequent 
exceptions ? 

About the twentieth day from the commencement 
of the laying of male eggs, the bees begin to lay the 
foundations of royal cells, and the Queen having re- 
sumed laying female eggs, deposits them, at intervnls 
of one or two days, in these cells, from which are 
hatched, in due time, other Queens. This regular 
process is, however, sometimes interrupted : — if the 
Queen be not a fertile one, and the colony is, in con- 
sequence, weak in population ; if the hive or domicile 
itself be large in proportion to the number of its in- 
habitants ; or if the temperature of the season has been 
such as to interfere with the copious collection of 
honey or farina, in these circumstances no male eggs 
will be laid, no royal cells founded, and no swarms 
^vill issue. But, in favourable circumstances, the 
laj^ing of royal eggs takes nlace regularly during the 
laying of those of males, and swarming is the conse- 
quence. Theroyal cell (PI. VI.) is an inch in depth,and 
it has been considered difficult to comprehend how the 
body of the Queen can reach the bottom, so as to 



S(> THE BROOD. 

attach the egg to it ; but_, in fact, the Queen lays 
when the cell is merely founded, and not deeper than 
that of a common bee, and it is not until the precious 
deposit has been made, that the workers lengthen it 
to the full size. The egg destined to produce a 
Queen, like that which is laid in a drone-cell and that 
of a worker, is three days old before it is hatched ; as 
soon as this takes place, the royal larva becomes an ob- 
ject of devoted attention to the bees, who watch over 
and feed it with unremitting attention and care. " It 
is difficult," says M. Feburier, " to form an idea of the 
anxious care and attention bestowed by the bees 
on the royal larva. The comparison of the affection 
of a mother for an only child can alone furnish any 
thing like a conception of it. They seem to feel that 
their own fate is involved in that of their young sove- 
reign ; they feed her with a jelly different from that 
which is destined for the workers and males ; it is 
more pungent, and moderately acid ; and they supply 
it in such profusion that she is unable to consume 
it all, for, after her transformation, some remains of 
it are .found at the bottom of the cell." 

At the end of the fifth day of the larva state, the 
royal cell is closed, and the inhabitant begins spinning 
her cocoon. It is worthy of remark, that this cover- 
ing is left incomplete, unlike those of the workers and 
males, which inclose the whole body. This fact 
beautifully demonstrates the admirable art with which 
the Author of nature has connected the various cha- 
racteristics of this interesting tribe of his creatures. 
And the fact now under consideration is one of no 



THE HONEV-BEE. 8/ 

small importance in bcc-economvj for, were tlie 
Queen's cocoon completely to envelope her body, her 
destruction by her rivals would be rendered extremely 
difficult ; the texture of the covering is so close, tliat 
the sting would be unable to penetrate it, or, if the 
attempt were made, it might be entangled by its barbs 
in the meshes of the cocoon, and the struggling female, 
unable to disengage it, would become the victim of 
her own fury. In spinning the cocoon, the Queen 
spends only 24 hours ; she remains in a death-like 
torpidity between two and three days, is then meta- 
morphosed into a nymph, and, after remaining in that 
state four days and a half, she comes forth a perfect 
Queen on the sixteenth day. In the case of the wor- 
kers and males, the transformation is no sooner com- 
pleted than they are at liberty to abandon the confine- 
ment of the cradle, and hasten, — the former, at least, 
— to partake of the labours of the community, and 
to rantje the fields and flower-gardens in the verv 
plenitude of bee-enjoyment. But the case is different 
with the young Queens ; like other sovereigns, they 
pay the tax of their high estate in having their inclin- 
ations put under restraint for the public good. The 
royal insect is not permitted to leave the cell, and, 
as generally happens, to lead off a swarm, unless the 
weather be very favourable. Were she to obtain her 
liberty, while, at the same time, emigration was 
prevented by the state of the external atmosphere, 
or other circumstances, there would be a plurality of 
Queens in the hive, and mortal strife would ensue. 
The young Queen, therefore, is detained a captive, 



88 ARTIFICIAL QUEENS. 

and the workers, piercing a hole in the cover of the 
cell, insert their prohosces, and supply her with food 
during her captivity- 

On the conversion of the larva of a Worker into a 
dueen.-'—Bees, when deprived of their Queen, are 
endowed hy nature with the power of remedying this 
calamity, hy converting a worker larva into a royal 
one ; and, by means of a cell of a larger size, and of a 
peculiar kind of nourishment, of producing a female 
that shall he, to all intents and purposes, a Queen or 
mother-bee, capable of perpetuating her kind. The 
discovery of this singular fact is generally attributed 
to Schirach, and, probably, with justice ; for, although 
the practice of making artificial swarms, which can 
only be eifected by causing the production of artificial 
Queens, is said to have prevailed amongst the modern 
Greeks and Italians from a very early period, it does 
not follow, nor does it appear from any authentic 
documents, that they were aware of the reason why. 
The manner in which Schirach made the discovery is 
interesting : — Having used a great quantity of smoke 
in some of his operations, the bees were so annoyed 
by it that numbers of them left the hive, and, amongst 
them, the Queen. Knowing the consequences of her 
loss, he sought for her diligently, but in vain. Next 
morning he observed a cluster of bees about the size 
of an apple on the prop of the hive whose Queen had 
fled ; here he discovered a Queen, and, having carried 
her to the entrance of the hive which had lost its own, 
she was immediately surrounded by the bees, and 
treated in such a manner as plainly announced that 



THE HONEY-BEE. 89 

she was their Queen. " What was my astonishment/' 
he proceeds, " when, wishing to introduce her among 
the combs, I saw that the bees remaining had alreac^y 
planned and almost finished three royal cells ! Struck 
with the activity and sagacity of these creatures, to 
save themselves from impending distraction, I was 
filled with admiration, and adored the infinite goodness 
of God in the care taken to perpetuate his works. 
Havincj carried awav two of the cells to ascertain 
whether the bees would continue their operations, 
I beheld, next morning, with the utmost surprise, 
that they had removed all the food from around the 
third worm left behind, on purpose to prevent its 
conversion to a Queen." The fact of this power 
possessed by the bees is so extraordinary, that its 
reality was at first called in question by several emi- 
nent naturalists, among others, by the justly cele- 
brated Bonnet. This naturalist was at last, however, 
convinced of its reality by experiments instituted by 
himself, and, satisfied that all the working-bees are 
females of imperfect organisation, expressed his opi- 
nion that the evolution of the germ is effected by 
the action of the prolific matter as a stimulant, as 
a substantial nutriment suitable for that purpose ; and 
he supposes that a certain quality of food, administered 
more copiously than in ordinary cases, may unfold 
those organs in the larvae of bees that never would 
have appeared without it. He conceived, also, that 
a habitation, like a Queen-cell, considerably more 
spacious, and differently placed, is absolutely neces- 
sary to the complete developement, of organs, which 



90 ARTIFICIAL QUEENS. 

the new nutriment may cause to grow in all directions. 
It furnishes a surprising evidence of the slow degrees 
by which scientific facts make their way, if not essen- 
tial to general utility, when we consider that to this 
day, the knowledge of this singularity in the natural 
history of this insect, is confined almost exclusively 
to apiarians, and even rejected by some of them. 
It has, however, been confirmed by so many experi- 
ments instituted by many different individuals, that 
no unprejudiced mind can withhold its assent from 
its truth. Extraordinary, hovvever, as this fact is, 
it is not more so than many others which have not 
attracted our particular notice, merely because they 
are familiar to us. '' If we preserve the seed of a 
plant," says Feburier, '^^for a series of years, and 
supply it with different nourishment and soil, and 
bestow upon it different treatment from that which 
was destined for it by nature, we destroy its powers 
of fecundity; the flower no longer possesses pistils 
or stamina, petals replace them, and announce the 
sterility of the plant." Something analogous to this 
holds true, it is said, in the case of one of our domestic 
quadrupeds. We find the twin-calf, stinted as it has 
been for room in the ovarium of its mother, and the 
recipient of but half the nourishment which would 
otherwise have fallen to its share, becomes in after 
years a barren cow. In the case of the bee, " the egg 
of a worker, placed in a royal cell, only produces 
an insect which has its powers more fully developed, 
in proportion to the ampler space which it occupies, 
but it acquires no neiJD powers. The germ of the ovary 



THE HONEV-BEE, 91 

exi?5ted originally in the common lee as well as in the 
mother-hee, but the confined limits of its cell, and 
the want of the peculiar food provided for. the royal 
race prevented its developement." 

The proceedings of the bees in order to supply 
the loss of their Queen,, are extremely interesting. In 
about twenty-four hours they are aware of the misfor- 
tune that has befallen them, and, without loss of time, 
they set about repairing the disaster. They fix upon 
a worm not more than three days old, demolish the 
three contiguous cells, and raise around it a regular 
cylindrical inclosure. At the end of three days, the 
workers change the direction of the cell, which has 
hitherto been horizontal, into a perpendicular position, 
working downwards till it assume the appearance of 
a stalactite. In due time it is sealed, and the larva 
undergoes its metamorphosis into a royal nymph. Ru- 
ber gives a detail of some interesting experiments on 
this head, the substance only of which we can pre- 
sent to our readers. He deprived a hive of its 
Queen, and put into it some pieces of comb con- 
taining worker eggs. The same day several cells were 
enlarged by the bees, and converted into royal cells, 
and the larvee supplied with a profusion of jelly. He 
then removed these worms from the royal cells^ and 
substituted for them as many common worms from 
workers' cells. The bees did not seem aware of the 
change, they watched over the new worms as intently 
as over those chosen by themselves ; they continued 
enlarging the cells, and closed them at the usual time. 
At the proper time, two Queens were hatched, almost 



92 ARTIFICIAL QUEENS. 

at the same moment, of the largest size, and well 
formed in every respect. Nothing could he more 
conclusive than this experiment. It demonstrated that 
bees have the power of converting the worms of wor- 
kers into Queens, since they succeeded in procuring 
them by operating on worms not chosen by them- 
selves, hut selected for them. 

In addition to this conclusive experiment, we shall 
take the liberty of detailing two of our own on the 
same subject, which were made nearly twenty 
years ago, and which we have repeated almost every 
year since with the same success. We give these 
experiments not from any idea that those of Huber 
require confirmation, or that ours are of importance 
enough to supply any such supposed deficiency, but 
on the obvious principle that the more numerous the 
experiments, and the greater the diversity of experi- 
menters, the more irrefragably is the alleged fact 
established, if the result be uniformly the same. In 
June 1822, we instituted an experiment with a view 
of witnessing a combat between two queens, and the 
result as to that object will be afterwards noticed. 
It was only incidentally that we derived from it a 
confirmation of the fact in question, and we shall now 
state the particulars. Into a hive well peopled, but 
not possessing, as far as we could discern, any very 
young brood, we introduced a stranger-queen, with 
the expectation that the two rival potentates, each of 
whom, like the jealous Turk, can bear no rival near 
her throne, would decide by single combat which of 
them should retain the honours and privileges of 



THE HONEY-BEE. 93 

royalty. AVc contemplated the possibility of both 
falling in the conflict at the same moment — an in- 
stance of such a calamity having come to our know- 
ledge — and therefore with a view of remedying such 
an evil, if it should occur, and thus of preventing the 
total destruction of the hive, we took a piece of comb 
from another hive, containing worker eggs, and worms 
of the proper age, according to the directions of 
Huber, and fixed it in the experimental hive, that 
the bees might rear for themselves a new queen, 
should the combat terminate with a double death. 
To our astonishment, for at this time both queens 
were alive, we saw the bees next morning busily 
occupied in building a royal cell in the new piece of 
comb. They had demolished two or three cells ad- 
joining the one they had pitched on for the royal 
cradle, and were now eagerly labouring at its enlarge- 
ment, giving it a circular instead of a hexagonal form, 
and bestowing unceasing attention on the larva it 
contained. During the day the royal cell made con- 
siderable progress, and in the afternoon of the day 
following, it extended about half an inch vertically. 
Next day, it advanced rapidly; the worm had attained 
to a great size, and the bees were unwearied in feed- 
ing it. On the fifth day, the cell was sealed, and on 
the fourteenth a young queen was hatched ; but her 
enjoyment of life and liberty was very short. She was 
instantly surrounded by a mass of bees, who hemmed 
her in so closely, that but a very small part of her body 
was visible. She made many painful and unavailing 
struggles to escape, and emitted every minute a plain- 
tive sound. All the while, the reigning queen (for the 



94 ARTIFICIAL QUEENS. 

stranger had by this time been dispatched, tliough not 
in our sight) occupied herself in laying eggs, often 
within an inch or two of the prisoner, going about her 
avocations with as much unconcern as if she knew that 
her subjects would, of themselves, soon and effectually 
rid her of her puny rival. In two hours from her birth, 
accordingly, the body of the young queen dropped 
lifeless from the dense mass of her inexorable guards. 
Of the other experiment which we are noM^ to de- 
tail, the sole object was to prove the existence of the 
power inherent in the Bees of rearing an artificial 
queen, when deprived by any accident of their original 
mother. This, indeed, had been proved by the ex- 
periment above detailed, but only incidentally ; and 
we were anxious, by an experiment instituted exclu- 
sively for that object, and conducted with minute and 
scrupulous accuracy, to put the matter out of all doubt 
in our own mind at least. In July, our experimental 
hive was full of bees, brood and honey; the Queen 
was very fertile, and laying at the rate of more than 
100 eggs a-day. We opened the hive and carried 
her off. For about eighteen hours the bees continued 
their labours as earnestly and contentedly as if she 
were still with them. At the end of that time, they 
became aware of their loss, and all was instantly 
agitation and tumult; the bees hurried backwards 
and forwards over the comb with a loud noise, rushed 
in crowds to the door and out of the hive, as if going 
to swarm ; and, in short, exhibited all the symptoms 
of bereavement and despair. Next morning, they 
Lad laid the foundations of five royal cells, having 
demolished the three cells conti^-uous to ejich of those 



THE HONEY-BEE. 95 

containing eggs or worms^ Avliich suited their pur- 
pose ; and by the afternoon, there were visible the 
rudiments of four more royal cells, all in quarters of 
the comb where before were nothing but eggs and 
common larvse, of one or two days old. Two of these 
royal cells advanced more rapidly than the rest, pro- 
bably from the larvoe being of an age the fittest for 
the purpose ; four came on more slowly, and three 
made no progress after the third day. On the seventh 
day, the two first were sealed, tv/o more were nearly 
so, but neither these last nor any of the rest advanced 
farther, as if the bees, satisfied that they had secured 
at least one queen, judged it unnecessary to carry 
forward the others to maturity. On the morning of 
the fourteenth day, from the removal of the old queen, 
a young one emerged from her cell, strong and active, 
and exactly resembling those produced in the natural 
way. While watching her motions, I saw her hasten 
to the other royal cell, and attempt to tear it open, 
doubtless with the intention of killing its inmate ; 
but the workers pulled her violently back, and con- 
tinued to do so as often as she renewed the assault. 
At every repulse she assumed a sulky attitude, and 
emitted the shrill monotonous peep, peep, peep, so 
well known to Bee-masters, while the unhatched 
queen emitted the same kind of sound, but in a 
hoarser tone, the consequence of her confined situa- 
tion ; and this, by the way, accounts for the two 
ditferent sounds which are generally heard from a 
hive on the eve of throwing a second swarm. The 
shrill sound proceeds from the reigning queen, and 



96 ARTIFICIAL QUEENS. 

seems to express lier rage and disappointment at 
beino^ baffled by the watchful guardians of the iin- 
liatebed queen, from whom the hoarse sound comes. 
In the afternoon of the same day^ the last mentioned 
female left her cell. We saw her come forth in 
majesty, finely and delicately formed, but smaller 
than the other. She immediately retired within a 
cluster of workers, and we lost sight of her. Next 
morning on opening the shutter of the hive, we per- 
ceived the younger queen rushing apparentlj'' in great 
terror across the surface of the comb, and hurrying 
round the edge of it to the other side ; and in the 
next moment, the other royal personage came in 
sight, hotly pursuing her rival. We now fully ex- 
pected to witness Huber's combat of queens, and 
were about to wheel round the hive on its pivot, to 
contemplate the fray, when business called us away. 
In half an hour we returned, hoping we might be in 
time, but all was over ! the younger queen was lying 
upon the alighting-board on her back, in the pangs 
of death, newly dragged out by the bees, and doubt- 
less the victim of her jealous senior. 

We observed two circumstances respecting these 
artificial queens, which may be noticed here, though 
rather, perhaps, out of place — one of them agreeing 
perfectly with the experience of Huber, while the 
other is at variance with it. While the surviving 
queen remained a virgin, not the slightest mark of 
attention or respect was shewn to her by the bees ; 
no one gave her food, she was obliged as often as 
she required it, to help herself, and in crossing 



THE HONEY-BEE. 97 

to the honey cells for that purpose, she had to 
scramble, often with great difficulty, over the croAvd, 
not an individual of which got out of her way, or 
seemed to care whether she fed or starved. But no 
sooner did she become a mother than the scene was 
changed indeed, and all vied in testifying their affec- 
tion and regard ; one after another presented her 
proboscis with food, and at every step of her pro- 
gress, a circle was formed around her by her admir- 
ing subjects. The other circumstance alluded to, 
which varies from the experience of Huber, respects 
the vigilance of the workers in such cases, and the 
sound emitted by the queens. He says, that the 
workers form no guard around the cells of artificial 
queens, and that these last are perfectly mute ; and 
the Naturalist makes some remarks by way of account- 
ing for it.* The above experiment is completely in 
contradiction to this. The cell of the younger queen 
was most strictly guarded, and both emitted the 
sounds alluded to, perhaps once every minute, for 
several hours together. — To these experiments we 
have only to add farther, that, as already stated, we 
have very frequently repeated the same operation, 
and always with success ; and that in the summer 
of 1832, we removed the reigning queen of the 
same experimental hive three times successively, 
suffering each queen to remain just long enough to 
lay a score or two of eggs before her removal ; and 
each time the workers laid the foundations of five or 
six royal cells, and brought two or three Queens to 
* Huber, p. 181. 



98 ARTIFICIAL QUEENS. 

maturity. Witliin the space of six vveeks^ we saw 
the foundations laid of fourteen or fifteen royal cells, 
and at the last removal, no fewer than three Queens 
were visible at the same moment on the surface of the 
comb ; yet we had not the good fortune to witness a 
regular combat between any two of them. The first 
hatched of the three, we had reason to conclude, 
dispatched two of her rivals, but without our wit- 
nessing the deed of death. The third we saw her 
sting repeatedly, at the instant of the former emerging 
from her cell, and without any attempt on the part 
of the bees to restrain her. The wounded Queen 
had strength enough to move a few inches across the 
comb, when she paused, and seemed to sicken from 
the effects of the venom ; she moved again, with a 
very languid step, an inch or two, and then stopped ; 
her limbs became visibly paralyzed, and in a few 
minutes she dropped lifeless to the bottom of the hive. 
— From all these experiments, it seems now a fact 
established beyond all doubt, that Bees can at all times 
procure a Queen for themselves, provided they have 
a comb containing larvae not more than three days old, 
in the common cells, and that nothing but certain im- 
portant conditions, such as a particular kind of food 
and more spacious lodgment, are requisite for the con- 
version of common larvse into Queens. 

At the same time, it ought to be candidly con- 
fessed, that while the fact itself seems now com- 
pletely established, there are circumstances connect- 
ed with it which we are unable satisfactorily to ex- 
plain. That a more abundant supply of food, and 



JK 



THE HONEY-BEE. 99 

of a more stimulant quality, administered in a cell of 
larger dimensions, should give full development to 
organs which, by the ordinary treatment, would have 
remained but partially expanded, we can readily 
comprehend ; but that such extra supplies of food 
and space should effect an absolute change in the 
anatomical structure and instinctive propensities, — 
should produce a more slender proboscis, deprive the 
transformed insect of the downy brushes at the joints 
of her limbs, and of the basket-shaped cavities in the 
posterior pair, for retaining the pellets of farina, — 
and, above all, should effect so great an alteration in 
her instincts, rendering them in numerous particulars 
entirely different from those of the worker class, for 
which she was originally destined, — these are cir- 
cumstances which, notwithstanding all our researches, 
are still involved in mysterious obscurity, and furnish 
ample scope for future investigation. 

On the Architecture of Bees. — The peculiarities of 
instinct in the different orders of animals, if pursued 
through all its variations, would supply us with an 
inexhaustible fund of admiration and instruction ; 
and in none of the lower animals is this wonderful 
faculty more worthy of our notice and investigation 
than in the Bee. So much, however, has been al- 
ready written on this particular point, that the sub- 
j,ect is pretty nearly exhausted. We should perhaps 
find, notwithstanding, but little difficulty in treating 
our readers with an additional disquisition on the same 
subject, but as we do not pretend to be able to give 
a more satisfactory elucidation of the mystery of 



100 ARCHITECTURE OP BEES. 

animal instinct than has been already furnished by 
M-riters* well entitled to our respect, we shall restrict 
ourselves to one or two brief remarks having a spe- 
cial reference to the subject of this chapter. It has 
been said of Instinct generally, that, taken the least 
out of its way. it seems an undistinguishing, limited 
faculty, and blind to any circumstance that does not 
immediately respect self-preservation, or lead at once 
to the propagation or support of the species. As far 
as the instinct of Bees is concerned, this maxim 
must be taken in a qualified sense ; for there are 
numerous instances in the proceedings of this insect 
in which instinct does vary, and conform to the cir- 
cumstances of place and convenience ; and in no part 
of their economy do we see more striking instances 
of this half-reasoning faculty than in their Architec- 
ture. In the ordinary operations of collecting their 
food, feeding their young, following their queen, &c. 
they are prompted, doubtless, by pure and simple 
instinct. In avoiding danger, and in returning to 
the spot where food had formerly been provided for 
them, they seem guided by an exertion of memory, a 
faculty which they appear to possess in a consider- 
able degree. But in adapting their waxen structures 
to change of circumstances, and so as to overcome 
any artificial obstacle, — in building upwards, con- 
trary to their natural mode of procedure, — in building 
laterally, when unable to find a sure foundation for 
their works, either above or below, — in curving their 
combs, and constructing them anyidarly, when de- 
* See Bonnet, Huber, Virey, Kirby and Spence, Bevan, &c. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 101 

sirous of avoiding some interposing substance having 
a smooth or glassy surface, — these are results which 
seem to manifest something more than simple in- 
stinct ; they afford a wonderful proof of the resources 
of this faculty, w^hen compelled to deviate from the 
ordinary course ; they imply, in fact, the possession 
of a certain degree of intellect, or of reasoning power, 
by which their instinct is modified and counteracted. 
We cannot, indeed, but be filled with astonishment, 
when we see their ingenious expedients in getting 
the better of difficulties, which would not have occur- 
red in their natural state, — and with admiration of 
the wisdom and goodness of the Almighty Parent, 
so conspicuously visible, even in the unconscious in- 
stinctive operations of these tiny creatures of his 
hand. 

The material of which the bees construct those 
beautiful combs, which deserve so much admiration, 
is Wax — the nature and production of which will be 
considered in a subsequent chapter. No sooner has 
a swarm been safely lodged in a hive, than the in- 
dustrious labourers commence the operation of build- 
ing. One portion of the population employs itself in 
cleaning out their new abode, whilst a large number 
hastens to the fields, some of them to collect honey, 
the saccharine part of which is the source of the wax 
used in the construction of the combs, — and others 
to gather propolis, which is a tenacious substance 
employed in fixing the less adhesive wax to the roof 
of the hive, and in stopping up any crevices that 
might give entrance to vermin, or admit the cold. 



102 ARCHITECTURE OF BEES. 

On their return, those bees which have been occu- 
pied in collecting honey, cluster closely together at 
the top of the hive, and, suspended from each other 
by their hooked claws, form a variety of fantastical 
and often graceful figures, festoons, curtains, ladders, 
&c., crossing each other in all directions, (PI. V.), 
and seem sunk in a profound inactivity, which con- 
tinues about twenty-four hours. The inactivity, how- 
ever, is only apparent. The time which they pass 
in this seeming repose is doubtless necessary for the 
elaboration of the honey, and the transfusion of the 
saccharine part in the form of wax. But in the 
centre of the mass, one worker has left its fellows, 
and laid the foundation of the future structure ; it is 
succeeded by several others^ each of whom, singly 
and separately, contributes its quantum of material 
and skill to the rising edifice, while succeeding bands 
of nurse-bees busy themselves in finishing and polish- 
ing the work, which the wax-workers have only 
rougli hewn. For it is to be observed, that in the 
construction of the combs, the two classes of wax- 
workers and nurse-bees have their separate and dis- 
tinct provinces. That of the former is to supply the 
rough materials, and attach them coarsely together ; 
and that of the latter to finish and perfect the edifice. 
And while these last are occupied in this more re- 
fined operation of finishing and polishing, the former, 
like industrious labourers, are continually bringing 
forward additional loads of materials. One comb is 
scarcely begun, or contains not more than two or 
three rows of cells, when the busy architects proceed 



THE HONEY-BEE. 103 

to lay the foundations of two others^, one on each side 
of that already founded, continuing their operations in 
this manner, till they have taken in the whole range 
of their building ground ; and, with such diligence do 
they ply their labours, that in one day, during the 
height of the honey-season, they will construct no 
fewer than 4000 cells. A comb measures in thick- 
ness, generally speaking, one inch, and the interval 
between them is about one third of an inch, affording 
a passage for two bees, back to back, without ob- 
struction or inconvenience. These dimensions, how- 
ever, are varied according to circumstances. Towards 
the top of the hive, (PL VI. fig. 1, a, a,) where the 
honey magazines are situated, the cells are deepened, 
consequently the thickness of the comb is increased, 
and the road-way contracted. This is no inconve- 
nience to the bees, for, after the honey-cells are sealed, 
they have seldom occasion to visit that quarter of the 
hive, and can, therefore, put up with less room. 

When the breeding season returns, however, these 
cells are all reduced to their original size, if emptied 
of their contents, and thus fitted for the reception 
of brood. The combs, attached as they are to the 
roof of the hive, descend vertically. Unlike human 
builders, they begin their work at the top or ceiling, 
and suspend their structures from above. This is 
their usual mode of proceeding, but circumstances 
induce them sometimes to vary it. The following 
is an instance from our personal observation : We 
put a swarm into our experimental hive, which is so 
thin, as to admit of one comb only being constructed. 



104 ARCHITECTURE OF BEES. 

Its confined limits prevented any considerable number 
of bees from working at the foundation of the comb 
above. A large portion of them, therefore, began 
a comb, or rather tAVO, (PI. XV. Fig. 2, a, b,) on 
the rod vi^hich crosses the hive in the middle ; and 
thus two combs were being constructed at the same 
time, and which ultimately became one. It ap- 
peared, however, that there was still a want of rooifl, 
and of employment for these willing and industrious 
labourers ; for to our surprise a portion of them 
began a comb (d, e,) on the upper side of the cross 
rod, and, contrary to their natural mode of proceed- 
ing, worked upwards ; so that in a short period, the 
upper comb and the central piece met, and the whole 
formed ultimately one solid square. The surface of 
a new comb is not quite flat, but lenticular, that is, 
its thickness decreases towards the edges, and, conse- 
quently, the latest made cells are shorter or shallower 
than the others. So long as the comb has not 
reached its utmost limits, this shape is preserved ; 
but when the bees have no more room for its en- 
largement, they make all the cells of equal depth, 
and thus it obtains two flat and straight surfaces, 
which it will continue to retain, unless in certain 
circumstances. Should it be broken by any means, 
the edges of what remains must be reduced aojain to 
their lenticular shape before the bees can repair the 
structure, and prolong it to its former dimensions.* 
This happens also when the hive is enlarged, by 
giving it what is called in Scotland an eekj or addition 
* Huber, 372. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 105 

below. Previous to availing themselves of the 
added room, the bees reduce the thickness of the 
edges of the combs. When nevr, the combs are of 
a remarkably pure white colour, but soon assume a 
yellowish hue, and when a year old, are of a deep 
brown. This discoloration is believed by many to arise 
from the vapours and heated air of the hive ; but is 
attributed by Huber, erroneously we think, to some 
direct action on the part of the Bees, w^hich are fre- 
quently seen rubbing the surface of the comb with 
their teeth and fore-feet. In the construction of the 
cells, the Bees adopt the hexagonal form, (PL VI. Fig. 
1, b, b,) consisting of six equal sides, and begin their 
operations at the bottom, prolonging by degrees the 
pannels or sides. The bottom of a cell is composed 
of three rhombs, or plates of wax in the shape of 
lozenges or of card-diamonds, and disposed in such a 
manner as to form a hollow pyramid. " The apex of 
each pyramidal bottom, on one side of a comb, forms 
the angles of the bases of three cells on the opposite 
side, the three lozenges respectively concurring in 
the formation of the bases of the same cells."* The 
whole structure is so delicately thin, that three or 
four of the sides, placed upon one another, have no 
more thickness than a leaf of common paper. But 
by the admirable disposition and arrangement of its 
parts, " each cell, separately weak, is strengthened 
by coincidence with others. The bottom of each 
cell rests upon three partitions or pannels of opposite 
cells, from which it receives a great accession of 
* Be van on the Honey-Bee, 2d Edit. p. 391. 



106 ARCHITECTURE OF BEES. 

strength." Besides,, each cell is strengthened at its 
mouth by a strong thread formed of a mixture of 
wax and propolis, soldered to the inner edges, and 
giving it, by filling up the angles, a circular form. 
This gives great solidity to the fabric, and prevents 
the mouths of the cells from being easily injured by 
the unceasing ingress and egress of the bees. 

It is remarkable that the cell of a honey-comb, 
including its hexagonal sides and its pyramidal basis, 
is the figure, of all others, the best adapted for con- 
taining the greatest possible quantity, in the least 
possible space, and w^ith the least expense of mate- 
rial. " There are only three possible figures of the 
cells," says Dr. Reid, "which can make them all 
equal and similar without any useless interstices. 
These are the equilateral triangle, the square, and 
the regular hexagon." Of these, the hexagon is the 
best fitted for the bee-cell, for it unites to the 
requisites stated by Dr. Reid, economy of material, 
and a figure better adapted to the shape of the insect. 
This last property would have been possessed in a 
greater degree by the cylindrical form, but it would 
have left a vacant space between every three contigu- 
ous cells. The square and the triangle would have 
left no interstices, but would have consumed more wax, 
and been ill-adapted to the shape of the bee. The 
hexagonal form employed combines all the requisites ; 
for, together with a convenient figure for the reception 
of the body of the insect, it secures economy of material 
and economy of space, both as respects the number of 



THE HONEY-BEE. 1 OT 

cells contained in a comb^ and the internal capacity of 
each. The same^ or, if possible, still more admirable 
skill and arrangement are displayed in the basis of the 
cell. The three rhombuses of which it is composed, 
have the two obtuse angles each of 110 degrees, and, 
consequently, each of the two acute angles of 70 de- 
grees. This measurement was taken by Maraldi, 
and it was verified by Koenig, a celebrated mathema- 
tician and pupil of Bernouilli, who, on being desired by 
Reaumur to calculate the quantity that should be given 
to this angle in order to employ the least wax pos- 
sible in a cell of the same capacity, found that the 
angle in question ought to be ] 09° 26' or 1 10° nearly, 
the very angle which the insect adopts. What a sur- 
prising agreement ! A difficult mathematical pro- 
blem is proposed for solution to a man of pro- 
found science, and it is found that an insect, '' little 
among such as fly," instructed by the Fountain of 
Wisdom, has anticipated the calculations of the 
Geometer, and practically exhibited in its waxen 
structures the same conclusion precisely which the 
philosopher arrived at, only by the exercise of con- 
siderable ingenuity, and deep thought ! The cal- 
culation has also been verified by our distinguished 
countryman Maclaurin, who very justly observes, 
that '^ the bees do truly construct their cells of the 
best figure, not only nearly , but with exactness, and 
that their proceedings could not have been more 
perfect from the greatest knowledge of geometry." 
After all, as Dr. Reid remarks, the geometry is not 



108 ARCHITECTURE OF BEES. 

in the bee, but in the Geometrician who made the 
bee, and made all things in number, weight, and 
measure. 

The cells in a honey-comb are of different dimen- 
sions, corresponding to the different classes of bees, 
of which they form the birth-place. Those of the 
workers (PL VI. fig. 1, c, c,) are in depth about five 
lines, or less than half an inch, and in diameter 2f 
lines ; those of the males (d, d, d^ are between six 
and seven lines in depth, and 3g in diameter. Both 
of these are ultimately employed, after the breeding 
season is past, as receptacles for honey. The male, 
or drone cells are few compared with those of workers, 
which last generally compose the whole of the central 
combs, v/hile the first are most frequently constructed 
on the extremities of combs at some distance from 
the centre. 

It is curious to note the proceedings of the bees 
when about to pass from the construction of worker- 
cells to those of males. They do not all at once 
commence the latter of their full diameter ; such a 
proceeding would utterly disorder the delicate arrange- 
ment of the bases of the cells. But they build a few 
rows of intermediate cells, whose diameter augments 
progressively, until they gain the proportion proper 
to the cells required. And in returning to those of 
workers, a similar gradation is rigidly observed. The 
irregularity apparent in these transition cells has 
been accounted a defect. It is, on the contrary, an 
additional instance of that wise instinct which teaches 
them to quit the ordinary mode of nroceeding, when 



THE HONEY-BEE. 109 

circumstances demand tlie construction of enlarged 
cells, and after building 30 or 40 rows of them, to 
return to the proper proportions from which they 
have departed, by successive reductions. Both of 
these kinds of cells being nearly horizontal, it may 
seem surprising that they can be filled with, and re- 
tain, the honey-fluid. The fact is, however, that 
they are not horizontal, but are elevated at an angle 
of never less than 5°, and sometimes when the honey 
is rendered peculiarly thin and fluid by the warmth 
of the season, at not less than from 15° to 20° above 
the level of the horizon. We have often observed 
in the months of July and August, when the weather 
was very favourable for the secretion of honey and 
wax, the bees eagerly engaged in forming cells de- 
signed for honey only, and diflfering considerably 
from those which are intended in the first instance 
for the reception of eggs. The texture of the former 
is thinner, and their depth much greater ; and as the 
honey is at this period of the year of a rarer and 
more fluid quality, these cells are by a wise instinct 
made with a much greater dip or inclination than 
the ordinary ones, that there may be less risk of the 
liquid running out before they are sealed. Doubtless, 
also, the honey is prevented from escaping, partly 
by its own viscosity, and partly by the force of capil- 
lary attraction. For if we carefully examine a cell 
when nearly full, it will be observed that the sur- 
face of the fl uid is considerably concave, from its ad- 
hesion to the sides of the cell. It will also be ob- 
served how ingeniously the bees seal up their trea- 



110 ARCHITECTURE OF BEES. 

sures. They first form a ring of wax around the 
inside of the mouth of the cell ; to this first ring, ad- 
ditional ones are applied as the increased deposit of 
honey renders necessary, till at last the opening is 
completely sealed up by a succession of concentric 
rings. Besides the cells of workers and males, we 
find, during the swarming season, other cells, to the 
number of six, eight, ten, or twelve, differing alto- 
gether from those first mentioned. These are the 
royal cells, the cradles of the infant queens. (PL VI. 
fig. l,e,e.) They are found always on the edges of 
the combs, of such particularly as extend but half- 
way across the interior. These cells are constructed 
not entirely of wax, Mr. Hunter thinks, but of a 
mixture of that substance with farina. Their position 
is almost vertical, and somewhat resembling a hang- 
ing acorn ; their dimensions about one inch in length, 
and 3 1 lines in diameter. " Their oblong cylindri- 
cal form, smoothly polished within, and covered ex- 
ternally with a kind of fret-work, gives them the re- 
semblance of a suspended stalactite, and announces 
a particular destination. In fact, the imposing ap- 
pearance of this cradle, and the profusion of materials 
expended on it, which is such, that one of them out- 
weighs 100 common cells, point it out as destined 
for receiving and rearing the most important person- 
age of the colony — the mother and queen." * 

In the architectural operations of bees, the modus 
operandi has been minutely detailed in the writings of 
Huber. His observations and experiments on this 
* Feburier, Traite des Abeilles. 



THE HONEY-BEE. Ill 

branch of their natural history are calculated to excite 
the deepest interest, and we regret that our limits 
oblige us to forego the pleasure of reciting them, and 
to refer our readers to the original work. We cannot, 
however, omit one extract from his observations, 
which strikingly proves that though the bees, when 
left to themselves, regulate their operations with per- 
fect uniformity, they are yet capable of modifying 
them in particular circumstances. '' Having seen 
bees," says he, '' work both upwards and downwards, 
we wished to investigate whether we could compel 
them to construct their combs in any other direction. 
We tried to confound them with a hive glazed above 
and below, so that they had no place of support but 
the upright sides of their dwelling; lodging themselves 
in the upper angle, they built their combs perpendi- 
cular to one of these sides, and as regularly as those 
which they usually build under a horizontal surfac<3. 
I put them to a still greater trial: As they now testified 
their inclination to carry their combs in the shortest 
way to the opposite side of the hive, — for they prefer 
uniting them to wood, or a surface rougher than glass, 
— I covered it with a pane of this last mentioned 
material. Whenever this smooth and slippery sub- 
stance was interposed between them and the wood, 
they departed from the straight line hitherto followed, 
and bent the structure of their comb at a right angle 
to what was already made, so that the prolongation 
of the extremity might reach another side of the hive 
which had been left free. Varying this experiment 
after several fashions, I saw the bees constantly change 



112 ARCHITECTURE OF BEES. 

the direction of their combs, when I approximated a 
surface too smooth to admit of their clustering on it. 
They always sought the wooden sides. I thus com- 
pelled them to curve the combs in the strangest shapes, 
by placing a pane of glass at a certain distance from 
their edges. These results indicate a degree of in- 
stinct truly wonderful. They denote even more than 
instinct ; for glass is not a substance against which 
bees can be warned by nature. In trees, their natu- 
ral abode, there is nothing that resembles it, or with 
the same polish. The most singular part of their 
proceeding is changing the direction of the work, be- 
fore arriving at the surface of the glass, and while yet 
at a distance suitable for doing so. Do they antici- 
pate the inconvenience which would attend any other 
mode of building ? No less curious is the plan adopted 
by the bees for producing an angle in the combs ; 
the wonted fashion of the work, and the dimensions 
of the cells, must be altered. Therefore, the cells 
on the upper or convex side of the comb are enlarged ; 
they are constructed of three or four times the width 
of those on the opposite surface. How can so many 
insects, occupied at once on the edges of the combs, 
concur in giving them a common curvature from one 
extremity to the other ? How do they resolve on 
establishing cells so small on one side, while dimen- 
sions so enlarged are bestowed on those of the other? 
And is it not still more singular that they have the 
art of making a correspondence between cells of such 
reciprocal discrepance ? The bottom being common 
to both, the tubes alone assume a taper form. Per- 



\ 



THE HONEY-BEE. 113 

haps no other insect has afforded a more decisive 
proof of the resources of instinct, when compelled to 
deviate from the ordinary course." 

It is singular that though the construction of the 
cells of a honey-comb, so geometrically just, and so 
well adapted to produce the greatest capacity, at the 
least possible expense of superficial extent or of 
materials, has been long an object of general admira- 
tion ; one Naturalist, and that of no mean celebrity, 
affects to disdain partaking of this almost universal 
feeling. Buffon, as if to evince his superiority to 
what he considers the vulgar enthusiasm excited by 
the architecture of the bees, declares that " these 
bee-cells — these hexagons so much applauded and 
admired, serve only to furnish us with a new argument 
against enthusiasm and admiration. This figure, cor- 
rectly regular and geometrical as it appears to us, and 
as it actually is in theory, is, in this instance, but the 
effect of a mechanical result, which is often found in 
nature, and may be observed even in the most inani- 
mate productions. Crystals, and several other stones, 
and some kinds of salts, assume constantly this figure 
in their confirmation. Let a vessel be filled with 
peas, or rather with some seeds of a cylindrical shape, 
and let it be closely shut, after having first poured 
in a sufficient quantity of water to fill up all the in- 
tervals between the seeds ; let this water be boiled, 
and all the cylindrical seeds will become columns of 
six sides. The cause, it is evident, is purely me- 
b chanical. Every cylinder-shaped seed tends, by its 
i swelling, to occupv the greatest possible space in a 



1 14 ARCHITECTURE OF BEES. 

given space ; they become^ therefore, necessarily 
hexagons by reciprocal compression. In like man- 
ner, every bee seeks to occupy the greatest possible 
room in a given space ; it is therefore necessary here 
also, since the body of the bee is cylindrical, that 
their cells should be cylindrical, by reason of the same 
reciprocal compression." 

To this reasoning it may be answered, that there 
is no analogy between the cases. A hive without 
comb, as Lombard argues, is not above one- fourth 
filled with bees ; and there is no cover, as in the case 
of the vessel, to keep the mass together. To make 
the cases perfectly similar, and fit subjects of com- 
parison, the vessel with water ought to be filled but to 
the extent of one-fourth ; and in that case, the cylin- 
drical seeds will not be converted into hexagons. 
Besides, the cells at the extremities of the combs, 
though not so deep as those at the centre, are as 
exactly hexagonal in their forms. Now, if hexagons 
are formed by the reciprocal impression of the bodies 
of the bees against each other, how does it happen 
that the cells at the extremities, which are not attached 
to the sides or bottom of the hive, and where, con- 
sequently, there can be no reciprocal compression, 
should yet be as perfect hexagons as the rest ? And, 
not to dwell on other proofs adduced by Lombard 
and other writers, of the utter insignificancy of this 
naturalist's theory — the cells have not all the same 
figure, the same dimensions, depth, and diameter, 
which they would necessarily have, if they had been 
produced merely by reciprocal compression. No; 



THE HONEY-BEE. 115 

the works of the Bee demonstrate an intelligence, or, 
if we please, an instinct superior to that of most ani- 
mals ; and what is this instinct but the teaching of 
the Almighty — a manifestation, even in the organiza- 
tion of a creature so unimportant as a tiny fly — of his 
eternal wisdom, which can render an insect of the 
earth an object of wonder to man himself, with all 
his boasted endowments ; and which, while it guides 
the planets in their courses, and sustains and upholds 
innumerable myriads of rational and immortal beings, 
directs the minutest animalcule to do those things 
that are necessary to the preservation and comfort of 
its existence. 

On the different substances found in a hive — 
Hone?/, Wax, Farina or Pollen, and Propolis. — 
Honey is v/ell known to be a vegetable product, 
secreted in the nectaries at the base of the corollae 
of flowers. It has been supposed by some writers 
to be the elemental principle of all vegetables, with- 
out exception, and indispensable to their existence ; 
although there is, perhaps, no sufficient evidence of 
the saccharine matter of plants being in all cases con- 
vertible into honey. As one of its secondary uses, 
it seems destined by nature for the food of bees ; and 
these industrious collectors fail not to appropriate the 
rich liquid. Sweeping the hollow of the honey-cup 
with their little probosces, the little skilful chemists 
eagerly imbibe the saccharine juices as they exude 
from the nectarium, receive them into the globular 
honey-bag, which forms their anterior stomach, and 
hurrying homewards with their precious load, dis- 



k 



116 SUBSTANCES IN A HIVE. 

gorge it into the cells prepared for its reception. The 
quantity which each bee deposits at one time is very 
smallj the honey-hag when full not exceeding the 
size of a pea ; but the aggregate quantity collected 
by the whole population is prodigious. We have, in 
a fine summer day, repeatedly counted the bees of a 
hive as they return from the fields laden with sweets, 
and found the number to be between sixty and seventy 
in a minute. When the cell is full, it is carefuUv 
sealed with a waxen cover, and reserved for use in 
winter and spring, particularly in the latter season ; 
for more honey is consumed in the months of March 
and April, when breeding goes on actively, than dur- 
ing the four preceding months. At the same time, 
many cells are left open and half-filled only, for daily 
consumption. It has been a subject of discussion 
among Naturalists, whether the honey, after being 
extracted from the flowers, undergoes any change in 
the stomach of the insect before being deposited in 
the cell. Feburier is of opinion that it is subjected 
to the digestive process. The celebrated John Hun- 
ter thought it remained pure, and in no respect what- 
ever altered, however long it had been retained in 
the stomach of the bee ; and he is followed in this 
conclusion by his countryman, Bonner. Kirby and 
Spence, entomologists of no mean fame, have adopted 
the opposite opinion ; but it does not appear that 
they had been led to this conclusion by the result of 
any experiment instituted for the purpose of deciding 
the matter. Reaumur, however, tells us, that from 
his experiments, he was satisfied that a process of 



THE HONEY-BEE. 117 

elaboration does take place in the food with which 
he had supplied his bees ; and that the sugar with 
which he fed them had precisely the taste and flavour 
of honey. Our experience, if we may venture to 
differ in the matter from men so deservedly celebrated 
for attainments in natural science, leads us, with 
Hunter and Bonner, to a different conclusion. We 
have repeatedly tasted the syrup of sugar, which we 
had seen the bees taking from the feeding-trough, 
and depositing in the cells, and could never discover 
the slightest difference in any respect, at least so far 
as taste and flavour are concerned. Perhaps the 
liquid was clearer — we sometimes imagined it was — 
if so, this constituted the only difference. 

The secretion of honey depends greatly on the 
state of the atmosphere. During the prevalence of 
dry easterly winds, the fields present to the bees no- 
thing but barrenness ; their out-door labours are sus- 
pended, and but for the already hoarded stores, the 
brood would be in imminent danger of starvation. 
But when the weather is moist and sultry, and the 
air charged with electricity, the circulation of this 
vegetable fluid is considerably accelerated, and the 
bees know well how to avail themselves of so favour- 
able a juncture for collecting their treasure. Huber 
remarks, that the collection is never more abundant 
nor their operations in wax more active, than when the 
wind is from the south, the air moist and warm, and 
a storm approaching. Heat too long protracted, how- 
ever, and its concomitant drought, — chill rains and 
a north wind, entirely suspend the elaboration of 



k 



118 HONEY. 

honey in vegetables, and consequently the operations 
of the bees. The quality of the saccharine fluid is 
influenced by various causes. Something depends 
on the particular period of the season in which it is 
collected. In Scotland, the best honey is gathered 
in the months of June and July, when the white 
clover ( Trifolium repens,^ is in bloom ; and what 
is stored in spring, or rather in April and May, is 
purer and better flavoured than what is obtained in 
autumn, unless the bees have been during the latter 
season within reach of heath, the honey from M^hich 
is of a rich wild flavour, but of a darker colour. The 
quality of honey is, of course, much influenced by 
the nature of the plants most frequented by the bees. 
The famed honey of Hymettus derives its excellence, 
it is said, from the wild thyme growing so luxuriant- 
ly on the celebrated mountain from which it derives 
its name ; that of Narbonne, from the wild rosemary 
{Rosmarinus officinalis.^ The white Dutch clover, 
and the heath have been already noticed as furnish- 
ing honey of a superior kind ; and there is a district 
in Galloway, North Britain, where perhaps the best 
honey in the kingdom is produced, owing, it is sup- 
posed, to the great abundance of wild thyme ( Thymus 
serpyllum^ with which the country abounds. 
' Instances of honey of a deleterious nature being 
sometimes met with, have been already noticed, 
(p. 4.9.) We have seen it remarked, in Bee-publi- 
cations, that the finest honey is got from young 
swarms ; the fact is so, generally speaking, but not, 
as we might naturally be led to infer from the asser- 



THE HONEY BEE. 119 

tion, because it is the produce of young bees or of 
fresh swarmSj but because bees swarm only at the 
height of the honey-season, when the flowers are in 
their richest fragrance, and because the combs are 
then new, and have not as yet served as receptacles 
for the brood. The above remarks apply to the qua- 
lity of the honey in the state in which it is secreted 
in the flowers ; its after-treatment does not improve 
it. The heat and vapour of the hive are injurious to 
it ; in very severe seasons it is sometimes candied ; 
and in the honey-harvest, when it is being separated 
from the wax, its purity may easily be injured by 
imperfect management. 

As an article of nourishment to man, honey has 
been highly valued from time immemorial, whether 
used separately, or blended with other aliments. It 
was held out to the children of Israel as one of the 
valuable products of the promised land ; and to this 
day it is in high estimation in Eastern countries. 
Among the Greeks and Romans it was highly relish- 
ed j they compounded it with many other nourishing 
substances, and even mixed it with their wines. It 
is nutritious in proportion to the saccharine matter it 
contains, and is regarded by medical men as a good 
stomachic* Its use as an article of food has been 
greatly diminished by the culture of the sugar-cane; 
but it is still an article of very considerable traffic, 
and large quantities are imported into this country 
annually, both from the European continent and 
from America. It forms, we are told, a very im- 
• Feburier. 



120 HONEY. 

portant ingredient in those fine ales which are brew- 
ed in Scotland ; and certainly it must add not a little 
to the nutritive qualities of that wholesome beverage. 
It will not, perhaps, be considered out of place to 
take notice here of the Honey-dew. When the close 
of summer happens to be hot and sultry, and the air 
calm, the bees find a large supply of food on the 
leaves of certain plants and trees. This is the honey- 
dew. It is believed, generally, to be an exudation 
of the surplus sap of trees, by means of the pores of 
the upper surface of the leaves; and is most fre- 
quently found in the oak, the elm, the plane, the 
lime, and the beech, and also in many fruit-trees and 
ever-green plants. The idea has been entertained 
of its falling from the atmosphere ; and perhaps the 
supposition is, in a certain sense, not altogether with- 
out foundation, nor inconsistent with the notion of its 
being originally a vegetable exudation. Certain it is 
that, in very sultry evenings, we have observed not 
only the leaves of trees shining with the liquid, but 
the dry stones also and gravel completely bespotted 
with it, as if it had fallen in a gentle shower or dew. 
White of Selbourne regarded it as the effluvia of 
flowers, evaporated and drawn up into the atmos- 
phere by the heat of the weather, and falling down 
again in the night with the dews that entangle them. 
Curtis* is of opinion that it is neither an exudation 
of the sap of trees, nor falls from the atmosphere, 
but that the true and only source of this saccharine 
matter is to be found in the insect Aphis, or vine- 
* Linnaean Transactions, vol. vi. page 75. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 121 

fretter. That a species of honey-dew is secreted bv 
the Aphides, there can be no doubt; but that in 
these insects we are to look for its exclusive source, 
is a proposition we do not think borne out by facts. 
" If it fell from the atmosphere/' says Curtis, " it 
would cover every thing on which it fell indiscri- 
minately ; whereas, we never find it but on certain 
living plants and trees." The proposition in the be- 
ginning of this quotation we readily accede to ; the 
assertion at its close we can contradict from personal 
observation. We have, as already stated, seen the 
dry stones and gravel walks in the neighbourhood of 
plantations completely spotted with the liquid in a 
sultry summer evening ; and this, be it observed, not 
immediately under the trees, so as to warrant the 
supposition that it had been projected there by the 
aphides above, but at the distance of many yards 
from any plant or tree on which the insects might 
have taken their station. Curtis maintains, also, that 
" though wasps are partial to this food, bees appear 
totally to disregard it." He is surely mistaken in 
this. During the continuance of honey-dew, everv 
oak, elm, plane, and lime tree is literally covered 
with these insects ; and the observer has only to 
bring the tip of his tongue in contact with one of the 
leaves, to be convinced that the honey-dew is there, 
and that this is the great attraction to the bees, which 
are eagerly availing themselves of the liquid treasure, 
and expressing their delight in the joyous hum that 
is heard over head. The most obvious way, per- 
haps, of reconciling such well-known facts with the 



122 HONEY. 

opinions and observations of the distinguished Natu- 
ralist alluded to, is, that he applies the term honey- 
dew j not to the saccharine fluid that transudes through 
the leaves of certain trees, hut exclusively to the ex- 
crementitious matter deposited on them by the aphi- 
des. Assuming, then, that there are two kinds of 
honey-dew, one only of which is spoken of by Curtis, 
the following appears to us to be the rationale of the 
matter. Honey-dew, in whatever mode obtained, is 
the saccharine juice or sap of vegetables, indispens- 
able to their vitality. During extreme heats it exudes 
through the pores of the upper surface of the leaves. 
In this state it may be exhaled during the sultry heat 
of the day, and fall again in the form of condensed 
vapour in the night ; while what is secreted near the 
time of sunset remains on the leaves till the follow- 
ing morning. And, further, this same vegetable juice 
is extracted by another process besides the perspira- 
tory, — namely, by the sucker of the aphis inserted 
into the tender bark of the tree, or into the footstalks 
of the leaves, and conveyed through the insect's sys- 
tem, and finally discharged . almost in its primitive 
purity, from the abdomen, in liquid jets, unless there 
are ants at hand. In that case, the precious juice is 
sucked in by the last-named insects, with an eager- 
ness which strongly testifies their sense of its rich- 
ness.* 

* See P. Ruber's Researches concerning Ants. 
Since the above was written, the author has met with the fol- 
lowing confirmation of his opinion as to the origin of Honey- 
dew, in the Quai'terly Journal of Agriculture^ No. 44, March 
1 839, from the pen of an intelligent contributor to that work ; 



THE HONEY BEE. ] 23 

Wax. — Wax is a vegetable product, deriving its ori- 
gin from the saccharine principle existing abundantly 

— " The honey-dew was noticed by the ancients, and is men- 
tioned by Pliny by the fanciful designation of ' the sweats of 
the heavens,' and ' the saliva of the stars,' though he question- 
ed whether it is not a deposition from the air, purging this 
from some contracted impurity. More modern philosophers 
have. been quite as erroneous and discordant in their opinions 
relative to its nature. Some, with the most unmitigable aspe- 
rity, declare that it is the excrement of aphides ; others as ex- 
clusively maintain that it is an atmospheric deposite ; and a 
third party consider that it arises from bleeding consequent to 
the wounds of insects. That there may be a glutinous sac- 
charine liquid found upon the leaves of plants, arising from 
the first and third named causes, is probable, or rather cer- 
tain ; but this is by no means conclusive that there is not a 
similar liquid extravasated upon the surface of the leaves, ow- 
ing to some unhealthy action of their vessels. It is Avith this 
description of honey-dew that we are here concerned. The 
error into which writers on this subject appear to have fallen, 
consists in their having endeavoured to assign the origin of 
every kind of honey-dew to the same cause." After noticing 
the theories of White and Curtis, the writer goes on to say, 
" The various successful application of liquids to plants, in 
order to prevent the occurrence of honey-dew, and similar dis- 
eases, would seem to indicate that a morbid state of the sap is 
the chief cause of the honey-dew : for otherwise it would be 
difficult to explain the reason why the use of a solution of 
common salt in water, applied to the soil in which a plant is 
growing, can prevent the appearance of a disease caused by 
insects. But if we admit that the irregular action of the sap 
is the cause of the disorder, then we can understand that a 
portion of salt, introduced into the juices of the plant, would 
naturally have a tendency to correct or vary any morbid tend- 
ency, either correcting the too rapid secretion of sap, stimu- 
lating it in promoting its regular formation, or preserving its 



124 WAX. 

in the productions of nature. It is found on the 
upper surface of the leaves of many trees in the form 
of a varnish, possessing all the properties of bees-wax. 
The wax-hearing myrtle, (M?/rica Cerifera,^ a shrub 
which grows abundantly in Louisiana and other parts 
of North America, bears a small berry, of which wax 
forms the outer coating, and which, when exposed to 
flame, burns with an agreeable aromatic odour. Dr. 
Darwin supposes that the design of the waxy varnish 
which covers the flowers is " to glaze over the fecun- 
dating dust of the anthers, and prevent its premature 
explosion from excessive moisture," and ascribes to an 
unseasonable diffusion of the anther dust, the failure of 
orchard and corn crops in summers of extreme humidity. 
The quantity of wax found in this form is small 
compared with that which is produced by the honey- 
bee, and also of inferior quality. When pure, it is 
of a whitish colour, destitute of taste, and with scarcely 
any smell; it grows brown and even blackish with age. 
After manipulation it has an aromatic smell, which, 
however, disappears on exposure to the atmosphere. 
The dust of flowers, called pollen or farina, was long 
supposed to be the element of wax; and it is a curious 
instance of the tardy progress of the knowledge of 
natural history, that, though the mode in which wax 
is produced by the bees was ascertained beyond all 
doubt by Huber, 40 years ago, the fact is yet little 
known, and scarcely believed ; and farina has, with 

fluidity. And thut by such treatment, the honey-dew may 
be entirely prevented, I have often myself witnessed in my 
own garden," &c. 



THE HONEY-BEE. ] 25 

many, still the credit of being what is called " crude 
wax." Buffon was of this opinion, and, in an edition 
of his works published so late as 1821, no notice is 
taken of the recent discoveries on the subject which 
prove his opinion to be erroneous. Reaumur was 
inclined to believe that pollen, by receiving some pe- 
culiar elaboration from the bees, was converted in the 
stomach to real wax, and disgorged under the ap- 
pearance of paste. Later observers, however, denied 
that wax was disgorged by the mouth ; they affirmed 
that it exudes from the rings of the abdomen in the 
form of small scales, and that pollen was used for very 
different purposes. That this last mentioned substance 
is not the prime constituent of wax was a conclusion 
drawn from repeated and accurate observations. It 
had been observed, for instance, that pollen is carried 
in great quantities into hives which are already full 
of comb, — that it is often of various colours, while new 
combs are always of a pure white, — that fresh swarms 
for some days carry no pollen, although their first ope- 
ration after being housed is the construction of combs, 
the building of which goes on with unremitted rapidi- 
ty, — and that w\n\e it has been calculated that 100 
pounds weight of pollen is carried into a hive during 
the season, the whole wax of a hive, v.hen separated 
from the honey, weighs something less than two pounds. 
On the other hand, the evidence is strong that wax 
derives its origin from honey. It is observed that 
seasons unproductive in honey are also unproductive 
in wax, although pollen is at the same time abundant, 
— that, by the accurate dissections of John Hunter, 



\ 



126 WAX. 

the receptacles were discovered where the wax is 
lodged after its transudation from the body of the bee, 
— that a vast number of small scales, proved to be 
wax, are to be seen at the bottom of the hive in which 
bees have recently been lodged, and which have cer- 
tainly fallen from them while hurriedly occupied in 
fixing the foundation of their combs, — and, that these 
scales have been observed by many, ourselves among 
the number, appearing under the rings of the abdomen, 
and more than half extruded. And, finally, these dis- 
coveries, which some, perhaps, might regard as little 
more than presumptive evidence, have been followed 
up by Huber with his usual success, and the formation 
of wax fromhoney or sugar, the saccharine part of which 
last-mentioned substance constitutes one principal in- 
gredient of honey, established by such unequivocal ex- 
periments as to force conviction on the most sceptical. 
We have again to express our regret that our narrow 
limits oblige us to giveonly a very brief abstract of these 
most interesting and conclusive experiments, and to 
refer the reader to the ampler details to be found in Ru- 
ber's work. He lodged a young swarm in a straw hive, 
furnishing them with honey and water, and confining 
them for five days ; at the end of that period the bees 
had consumed the whole of their provisions, and had 
constructed several combs of beautiful wax. These 
combs were removed and more honey given them, 
and the result was the same. This removal was made 
five times successively, and on each occasion, being 
supplied exclusively with honey, they produced new 
combs ; thus putting it beyond dispute that this sub- 



THE HONEY-BEE. 127 

stance effected the secretion of wax in the body of the 
bee. And further, to ascertain whether the saccharine 
principle were the real source of wax, he supplied the 
captive bees with sugar in the form of syrup ; the result 
was still the same ; wax was produced, and that in a 
shorter period, and in greater abundance than from 
honey. As the reverse of this experiment would prove 
whether the pollen or farina itself had the same pro- 
perty, instead of supplying the bees with honey or 
sugar, he fed them only on fruit and farina. They 
were kept eight days in captivity under a glass bell, 
with a comb having only farina in the cells, yet they 
neither made wax, nor were scales seen under the 
rings. 

It is but justice to the Scotch bee-master, Bonner, 
to remark, that, amidst the errors on the subject which 
prevailed in his day, he had a strong impression of the 
real source of wax, and the manner of its secretion. 
In this, as in other points of bee-science, his natural 
shrewdness and acuteness of observation led him to the 
very verge of some of the most important of those facts 
in the natural history of bees which we owe to the 
more scientific researches of Huber. " I have some- 
times," says he,*'been inclined to think that wax might 
be an excrescence, exudation, or production from 
the bodies of the bees, and that, as the Queen can lay 
eggs when she pleases, so, if need require, the working 
bees can produce wax from the substance of their own 
bodies. If this conjecture be right, it will follow, of 
course, that all the food which the bee takes, contri- 
butes to the formation of wax, in the same manner as 



128 FARINA. 

a]l the food which a cow eats contributes to the pro- 
duction of milk, or, to adopt a nearer simile from the 
insect tribe, as all the food which a spider takes con- 
tributes not only to the nourishment of the animal, but 
to the production of the substance of the cob-web from 
its body. Numberless other analogies in nature might 
be adduced in favour of the probability of this theory. 
The silk, for instance, produced from the body of the 
silk- worm, is a substance as diiferent from that of the 
animal itself, or of the mulberry leaf it feeds on, as 
wax is from that of the bo^y of the bee, or of the 
honey or flower she sucks. And the excrescence pro- 
duced in the human ear, which also goes by the name 
of wax, is certainly a substance as diflferent from that 
of the body which produces it as either the one or the 
other. Upon the whole, until I meet with a more 
probable theory, supported by facts, I must give it as 
my humble opinion that the wax is produced from the 
body of the bee alone, or rather, that the bees can 
speedily convertvinto wax what they bring from the 
flowers, and therewith build their combs and seal up 
both their young and their honey." * 

Farina, or Pollen. — Farina, or Pollen, is the ferti- 
lizing dust of flowers and forms a very important ingre- 
dient in the nourishment of the young bees. Before 
the discovery of the true origin of wax, it was supposed 
to constitute the rude material of that substance, being 
taken into the stomach and converted by some pecu- 
liar action of that organ, into real wax ; and hence, 
among French naturalists, it had obtained the name 
* Bonner on Bees, p. 195. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 129 

of cire brute, or crude wax. It consists of an infinite 
number of small globules, which, in exploding in con- 
sequence of the application of moisture, shed a subtle 
essence over the pistils of the flower, and thus effect 
the fecundation of the plant. The bees eagerly set 
about collecting this nutritious substance as soon as 
the season affords it, and continue to do so throughout 
the summer, not onh' for immediate use, but also for 
storing up against the season when it is not to be ob- 
tained abroad. They may be observed upon the an- 
thers of flowers, gathering this substance with unceas- 
ing activity, and forming it into little lenticular-shaped 
pellets which they place in the baskets in their third 
pair of legs. They often roll their bodies in the 
flower- cup, and then brush oflf the pollen adhering to 
them ; and they are sometimes seen tearing in pieces 
the capsules containing it, in order to get at their 
object.^"' The colour varies according to the hue of 
the flower from which it is collected. In spring it is 
generally of a bright yellow or orange, as these are 
the prevailing colours of the early flowers, such as 
crocuses, snow-drops, turnips, furze, &c. The bee, 
in each excursion in search of this substance, visits 
only one species of flower. This is proved by the fact 
that the little balls, with v.diich they are loaded, are 
uniformly of one unmixed colour — a wise provision 
of nature ; for thereby is the insect instinctively led 
to collect, at the same moment, those particles only 
of farina, which being homogeneous, will form the 

*" Feburier, Traits des Abeilles. 
I 



130 FARINA. 

closest cohesion ; and is further prevented from con- 
trihuting to the multiplication of hybrid plants.* 

The collection of pollen by the bees is made in 
greatest quantity in the earlier part of the day, before 
the heat of the sun has dried up the moisture which 
renders it more easily packed into the little masses 
which adhere to their legs. After they are fully 
loaded,, they return to their hive, and deposit their 
burden in cells in which there is neither honey nor 
brood. The mode in which the Bee unloads itself, 
has been already noticed. Planting her middle and 
hind legs firmly on the edges of the cell, she sweeps 
with her fore-legs the pellets from their baskets, and 
thus drops them into the cell. Another worker in- 
stantly inserts her head into this cell, and keeps it 
there for a minute or two, evidently kneading the 
farina, and probably mixing with it a portion of honey 
disgorged from the honey-bag, as it presents a moist 
appearance on her leaving it. Farina is probably 
mixed with wax in constructins: the combs when the 
latter substance is scarce, especially in building the 
royal cells, the outer surface of which appears to be 
nearly altogether farina, and only the inner surface 
of wax highly polished. But the principal use of 
this substance, after undergoing, perhaps, a peculiar 
elaboration, is to nourish the brood. This fact was 
proved by an interesting experiment of Huber. He 
furnished a hive, with combs containing brood, with 
honey and water, but no farina, and confined the 
bees so as to prevent them from seeking this last sub- 
* Bevan on the Honey-Bee. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 131 

Stance abroad. On the tliird day of their confinement, 
a loud noise was heard in the interior of the hive, and 
on examining it, all was found in confusion — the 
brood was abandoned — the bees ran in disorder over 
the combs — thousands rushed towards the entrance, 
and gnawed at its grating. The same symptoms of 
disorder showed themselves on the two following 
days, at which time the bees were allowed to escape, 
and the combs examined. The cells were found all 
vacant, and the brood had died, doubtless of hunger. 
Was the want of farina the cause of this cata- 
strophe? To decide the point, Huber supplied the 
same hive with fresh brood and abundance of farina, 
and confined them as before. Next day, they were 
observed busily employed in consolidating the brood 
combs that had been given them ; and having dis- 
covered the farina, they were seen crowding to the 
cells containing it;, extracting a supply, hurriedly 
mounting the combs, stopping at the cells containing 
brood, inserting their heads, and remaining in that 
position a considerable time. On the following day 
he inspected the combs, and found that all the larvae 
had jelly, as in ordinary circumstances ; that they 
had grown in size, and that some had been closed up 
to undergo their transformation into nymphs. Thus 
it is placed beyond all doubt that the young bees are 
nourished chiefly by that fine powdery substance which 
is found in the anthers of flowers, and is indispensable 
to their fecundity. Nature, ever wise and provident, 
has so disposed matters, that the insects which sub- 
sist on farina should be able to avail themselves of it 



132 PROPOLIS. 

without injury to the fructification of the plants. So 
farj indeed, from being an obstacle to this, the bees, 
on the contrary, greatly facilitate it, by applying in 
their movements the fertilizing farina to the stigma 
of the flower. 

Propolis. — Propolis is a tenacious substance, gene- 
rally of a dull grey colour, gathered by the bees from 
the buds of certain trees in early spring ; especially 
from the alder, the poplar, the birch, and the willow. 
It is of great use to the insect in various ways. The 
ancients supposed it to consist of three diff*erent sub- 
stances, or rather, perhaps, three different modifica- 
tions of the same substance, according to the diffe- 
rent proportions of wax blended with it, and have 
been followed in this opinion by some more recent 
inquirers ; yet the generality of intelligent Bee-mas- 
ters are satisfied that it is in fact a single substance 
when collected by the bees, and that it is afterwards, 
when used, mixed by them with common wax in 
different proportions, according to the purpose for 
which it is employed. Huber, to ascertain the fact 
of its origin, stuck some branches of the wild poplar 
in pots of earth, in front of his apiary. The bees 
immediately discovered them, and set about loading 
themselves with the identical substance, which he 
had often detected adhering to their thighs in the 
same manner as farina. He observed them " sepa- 
rating the folds of the buds with their teeth, drawing 
out threads of the viscous substance, and lodging a 
pellet of it in one of the baskets of their limbs." He 
ascertained farther, that branches newly cut did not 



THE HONEY-BEE. 133 

seem to attract the insect ; tlie viscous matter in them 
had less consistence, and therefore did not suit its 
purpose. The branches he used had been cut for 
some time. This last circumstance seems somewhat 
unaccountable. It can be but seldom, generally 
speaking, that the bees have it in their power to 
gather propolis from cut branches ; whereas, in point 
of fact, at the time when they most need that mate- 
rial, we see them busied in hundreds on the growing 
trees, and bringing it home in large quantities. 

The bees employ this substance in the commence- 
ment of the structure of their combs, to attach them 
more firmly to the foundation than could be effected 
by wax alone, which is neither so tenacious, nor 
attains to so great a degree of hardness. Indeed, it 
possesses the former of these qualities to such a de- 
gree, that the bees find some difficulty in detaching 
the pellets from the baskets on their legs, and have 
been observed availing themselves of the aid of their 
companions for that purpose. And hence, aware of 
its tenacity, they are observed gathering it only dur- 
ing the heat of the day, when it is rendered more 
ductile by the warmth. It is employed also in 
attaching the edges of the combs to the sides of the 
hive, where it forms a projection from the comb, and 
serves the purpose of a point d' appui. Every Bee- 
master is familiar with the use made of it in fastening 
the hives to the floors. It is employed too in stop- 
ping all crevices by which the winter's cold might get 
access ; and, above all, it is specially employed as an 
effective barrier against the intrusion of enemies. The 



J 34- TROPOLIS. 

bees have been observed contracting, by means of 
propolis, the entrances of their hives, and erecting 
something resembhng barricades with it, •when they 
had reason to apprehend the intrusion of the death's 
head hawk-moth, a dangerous enemy to the honey- 
bee, though little known in this country. The name 
propolis.'^ given to this substance by the ancients, 
proves that the use the bees make of this resinous 
exudation in fortifying their dwellings, has been long 
known. We have one or two amusing instances re- 
corded of a further use which their instinct has taught 
them to make of this substance. A shell-snail had 
found its way into one of Reaumur's- hives, and 
fastened itself by its slime to the glass. The bees, un- 
able to remove it, fell upon a most ingenious method, 
and at a small expense of labour and material, of pre- 
venting any annoyance from the intruder. They formed 
a border of propolis round the edge of the shell, where 
it rested on the glass, and thus fixed it immoveably. 
A slug-snail had crawled into a hive of Maraldi's, and 
was disposed of in a similar manner, though with 
more violence. The bees immediately surrounded 
it, and stung it to death. The disposal of the dead 
body was the next consideration — it was too bulky 
to be moved by their puny efforts, but they covered 
it all over with propolis, thus completely preventing 
the injurious effects that might have arisen from 
putrifaction. 

On the Formation of Swarms. — The swarming 

* Propolis, compounded of the Greek words pro and polis, 
signifying " before the city," 



THE HOXEV-BES. 135 

season is to the amateur in Bee-economy, a most in- 
teresting period in the life and operations of these 
extraordinary insects, and affords, perhaps, fully as 
much gratification as any other part of their proceed- 
ings. By the mere practical Bee-master, who looks 
almost exclusively to the return of profit arising from 
their culture, the honey-harvest will, of course, he 
regarded as the period of most interest. But by the 
Naturalist, the season of swarming, by bringing into 
view some of the most striking features of their mar- 
vellous instincts, and thus aflfording additional scope 
for his favourite studies, will ever be hailed with the 
most intense delight. 

We have already observed that the breeding season 
commences about the end of January, or early in Feb- 
ruary, unless the temperature be unusually severe, 
and continues with constantly increasing progress and 
activity throughout the summer. The addition thus 
made to the population is almost incredible. At the 
beginning of the year, a hive which in the preceding 
October contained no less than 12,000 or 15,000 
inhabitants, will be reduced below as many hund- 
reds ; and yet, by the beginning or middle of June, 
the numbers, provided the Queen be an ordinarily 
fertile one, and the season not unfavourable, will be 
augmented to more than the original amount, exclu- 
sive of an immense quantity of brood in progress of 
incubation. It is not surprising, therefore, that about 
mid-summer, or even before it, there seems a want 
of room in the hive, and a determination on the part 
of the bees to desert their crowded habitation, and 



136 PROPOLIS. 

to seek for a new one elsewhere. A crowded popu- 
lation may not be the sole cause of this periodical 
emigration of the bees; but it seems consonant to 
the usual course of nature that it should be the prin- 
cipal cause, and that others which may be alleged 
are but subservient to it. No royal brood is reared, 
unless the population fill the hive almost to over- 
flowing. This takes place sooner or later, according 
to the size of the domicile ; and hence we find that, 
generally speaking, small hives swarm sooner than 
those of larger dimensions. 

The heat in a full hive is excessive — the thermo- 
meter often rising above 1 00 degrees, — and may doubt- 
less have its effect in hastening the swarming ; and 
we have oftener than once succeeded in bringing off 
a swarm, when apparently undetermined, by the arti- 
ficial application of heat. But this increased temper- 
ature is the consequence of the overgrown population 
in relation to the size of their dwelling. The un- 
easiness of the Queen is usually stated as one of the 
causes of swarming, arising from the sight of so many 
royal cells, each containing, as a sure instinct teaches 
her, a future rival. However this may hold true in 
after-swarms, it seems at least doubtful whether it 
be applicable to the first. In respect to after-swarms, 
the then Queen, promj)ted by jealousy, is desirous to 
destroy her rivals ; and being prevented by the bees 
from doing so, she becomes agitated and restless, and 
finally forsakes a hive where she meets with so much 
to annoy her. But in the case of ^ first swarm, the 
Queen-mother meets with nothing but respect and 



THE HONEY-BEE. 137 

attention to her wishes from every member of the 
community. She is their common mother, and is 
never opposed by them, and might destroy all the 
embryo-queens without any opposition. And this, 
in fact, does sometimes take place ; for if the wea- 
ther at this period set in and continue intemperate 
and stormy, no swarming takes place, for the old 
Queen destroys the whole of the royal brood. But 
it is otherwise in ordinary circumstances ; and while 
she is left at perfect liberty to act as she pleases with 
regard to the unhatched queens, we are led to be- 
lieve that she is induced to emigrate, not on account 
of the presence of her embryo rivals, but in obedience 
to the wise provision of nature for the increase of 
the species. Whatever may be the real cause, the 
proceedings of the Queen and the workers at the 
approach of summer evidently show that matters are 
ripening for some great internal movement. About 
the beginning or middle of May, the bees, as if 
aware of the necessity, begin to form large cells, in 
which the Queen immediately deposits the eggs of 
males, and continues to do so for about thirty days. 
At the same time, some royal cells are formed ; for 
there appears to be a secret relation between the 
production of the eggs of males and the construction 
of royal cells ; and about the twentieth day of her 
laying this species of eggs, the Queen, discovering 
the royal cells, deposits an egg in one of them, and, 
at intervals of a day between each, in all the other 
cells of this description. The bees know to close 
them at the moment when the larvae are ready to be 



138 PROPOLIS. 

transformed into nymphs ; and as they in fact close 
all the royal cells at different periods, it is evident 
that the inclosed larvae are not all of an equal age. 

The laying of drone eggs having terminated, the 
Queen, previously large and unwieldy, becomes slen- 
der in her figure and more able to fly, and begins to 
exhibit signs of agitation. She traverses the hive 
impatiently, abandoning the slow and stately step 
which was her wont, and in the course of her im- 
petuous progress over the combs, she communicates 
her agitation to the workers, who crowd around her, 
mounting on her back, striking her briskly with their 
antennae, and evidently sharing in her impatience. 
A loud confused noise is heard throughout the hive, 
and hardly any of the workers are observed going 
abroad to forage ; numbers are whirling about in an 
unsettled manner in front of the hive ; and the mo- 
ment is come, to a considerable portion of the family, 
for bidding adieu to their ancient abode. All at 
once the noise in the interior ceases, and the whole 
of the bees about the doors re-enter ; while those re- 
turning loaded from the fields, instead of hurrying in 
as usual, hover on the wing, as if in eager expecta- 
tion. In a second or two, some workers present 
themselves again at the door, turn round, re-enter, 
and return instantaneously in additional numbers, 
smartly vibrating their wings, as if sounding the 
march ; and at this signal the whole swarm rushes 
to the entrance in an overwhelming crowd, stream- 
ing forth with astonishing rapidity, and filling the 
air in an instant, like a dark cloud overhanging their 



THE HONEY-BEE. 139 

late habitation. There they hover for a moment, 
reeling backwards and forwards, while some of the 
body search in the vicinity for a tree or bush which 
may serve as a rallying-point for the emigrants. To 
this they repair by degrees, and provided their Queen 
has alighted there, all, or at least the greater part, 
crowd around, and form a dense group, sometimes 
rounded like a ball, sometimes clustered like a bunch 
of grapes, according to the nature of the resting-place 
they have fixed on. (Plate VII.) The Queen is 
not always foremost ; it is frequently, or rather 
generally, not till after the departure of a consider- 
able number of workers that she makes her appear- 
ance j and when she does come, it is with a timid 
irresolute air, as if she were borne along, almost 
against her will, by the torrent that streams out of 
the hive, — for she often turns on the threshold, as if 
about to re-enter, and in fact frequently does so, but 
cannot long resist the opposing crowd.* 

The first swarm is invariably led oiF by the old 
Queen. This has been ascertained by actual obser- 
vation. The Queen leading off a first swarm in one 
year, has been marked by depriving her of one of 
her antennae, and has been found at the head of a first 
swarm in the year follo^^ing. This experiment has 
been so often repeated, and with results so uniform, as 
to put the fact beyond all doubt. Besides, in examin- 
ing those hives in which first swarms have been 
placed, eggs will be found in the cells on the second 

* Feburier. 



1 40 SWARMS. 

day, which could not have been the case had the 
leader been a virgin-queen. The reason for the de- 
parture of the old Queen with the first swarm is to 
be found in the fact, that a plurality of queens can- 
not exist in a hive. Were no swarm to depart^, 
therefore, until a young Queen could put herself at 
the head of it, this plurality must exist for a time, 
and the danger arise of a combat between the two 
sovereigns ; and the death of one, at least, and prob- 
ably of the younger and weaker, would be the con- 
sequence. By this means swarming would be pre- 
vented altogether. 

A swarm, especially a first one, never departs but 
in fine weather, and at the warmest time of the day. 
The passing of a cloud over the face of the sun, caus- 
ing a sudden diminution of the light, is sufficient 
to stop the emigration for a time, although all is in 
perfect readiness. The same efl^ect is produced, if, 
at the moment of rushing out, there is a sudden 
change of weather ; a shower of rain, however slight, 
or a gust of wind, will restore quiet instantaneously. 
No sooner, however, does the wind lull, and the sun 
shine out, though only for a second or two, than all 
the symptoms of restlessness and agitation are re- 
newed, and the impatient emigrants rush out in 
myriads. 

If suffered to remain any considerable time on the 
spot where they have alighted in swarming, the bees 
are apt to rise again, and take a new flight. But 
their flight now has a different aspect from what it 
had on first leaving the hive. They do not now hover 



THE HONEY-BEE. 141 

round the apiary, wheeling about in mazy circles, 
and in a kind of regular confusion, but dart away in 
a condensed body, and with a rapid wing, with a 
shrill whizzing sound, and almost always in a straight 
line, as if they had some particular selected spot in 
view. It is supposed, indeed, and on feasible grounds, 
that in every case the bees, previous to swarming, 
have fixed on a place of abode ; that they alight in 
the first instance on a bush or tree, merely as a 
general rendezvous, before proceeding to their final 
destination ; and that some days previously they send 
out some of their number in the character of scouts 
to look out for a suitable habitation. Whether this 
be the fact or not, is a question which has given 
rise to considerable discussion ; and a host of apia- 
rians have taken opposite sides on the subject. The 
advocates of the scout system are Warder, Butler, 
Bonner, and Knight among the British writers, several 
French naturalists, and the author of the letters of 
an American farmer. On the other side are Reau- 
mur, BufFon, Bonnet, and Huber. Who shall decide 
when such authorities diflfer in opinion ? As far as 
our experience goes, it is in favour of tlie scout 
system. At the approach of the swarming season, 
we usually place an empty hive or t\^'0 in the apiary 
to be ready for the reception of swarms ; and few years 
— perhaps none — have elapsed in which we have not 
observed for some days before the swarming com- 
mences, a few scores of bees very busy in some one of 
these empty hives ; — a circumstance almost uniformly 
followed by a swarm taking possession of it. They are. 



1 42 SWARMS. 

as might be expected, more apt to do so, if the hive 
contains comb or honey, the smell of which will 
have its eiFect in enticing them. But we have had 
many instances of their fixing on empty hives quite 
new, and which had never been used. At the same 
time, we do not mean to say that the bees literally 
send or commission some of their number on the 
duty of selecting a retreat ; but we think, that, im- 
pelled by instinct, numbers do go on this errand ; 
that each succeeding day they are joined in their 
search by others of the community ; that thus a 
great proportion of the population may have visited 
the spot selected ; and that, therefore, when the 
emigration takes place, a large body of the bees 
naturally betakes itself to the place pitched on, and 
is followed by the general swarm with the queen. 
We would not go so far as to maintain, as some 
have done, that in all cases the bees have pi:eviously 
chosen their intended retreat, and that the shrub or 
bush on which they first alight, is only meant to 
serve as a rallying point previously to their final 
flight. Were this always the case, it is not likely 
they would submit so readily to be intercepted by 
the bee-master, and remain contentedly, as in ninety- 
nine cases out of a hundred they do, in the hive in 
which he has placed them. The truth is, perhaps, 
that the writers on bees, like writers on many other 
subjects, especially of Natural History, are fond of 
classing the acts and proceedings of their favourites 
under certain fixed and uniform rules, from which 
they are supposed never to deviate. Whereas daily ex- 



THE HONEY-BEE. 113 

perlence may convmce uSj that beeSj like human 
beings, are often the slaves of circumstances^ and 
that their instinct is sometimes at fault. 

Second Swarms. — After the departure of the first 
swarm with the old Queen at its head, the com- 
munity is, for a time, without a reigning Queen. 
There is brood in the royal cells, but none come to 
maturity ; and it is not till the fifth, sixth, or seventh 
day in ordinary cases, that the senior of the young 
princesses is hatched, and takes her place as Queen 
regnant. Her first step is to hasten to the other royal 
cells, and endeavour to destroy her rivals. In these 
attempts, with which she is incessantly occupied for 
several days, she is strongly opposed by the workers, 
to whom, so long as she remains a virgin, she is an 
object of indifference ; and the scene takes place 
which has been described in page 95. At every 
repulse by the workers, she utters the shrill mono- 
tonous sound which is called piping, and which is 
heard for two or three days previous to the departure 
of a second swarm ; while the younger Queens in 
confinement respond, sometimes two or three of them 
at the same moment, in a voice sounding hoarse from 
the recesses of their prison. Irritated by such opposi- 
tion, and annoyed at the sight of so many royal cells 
in every quarter, the young Queen becomes extremely 
agitated, and at last rushes, together with the bees to 
whom she has imparted her agitation, through the out- 
lets of the hive, and thus form« the second swarm. 

Circumstances sometimes occur to prevent the de- 
parture of a second swarm. If the young Queen, as 



144 SWARMS. 

soon as hatched, sets out in search of the males, and 
is impregnated, no further emigration will take place, 
hecause, heing now ahout to hecome a mother, — the 
character to which alone the hees render their homage, 
— she enters into the full possession of her rights, 
and is allowed to attack and destroy all the unhatched 
royal hrood. And, further ; swarming is equally at an 
end, when, after the departure of the first colon}^, the 
remaining population is too small to keep up a vigilant 
guard over the royal cells. In that case, as if aware of 
the impossibilityof a second emigration, the bees aban- 
don the watch, and the young Queens, leaving their 
cells, engage in mutual combat till all are destroyed ex- 
cept one, who reigns undisputed sovereign. But inordi- 
nary circumstances, the agitation of the Queen, abun- 
dance of brood, a favourable season, and, pevhaps, 
other causes unknown to us, all lead to farther emi- 
gration, and, in populous hives, this may take place 
three and eYenJbur times. The interval between the 
first and second swarm is from eight to twelve days ; 
it is of a shorter duration between the second and 
third, and still less between the third and fourth ; in 
fact, vi^hen a fourth does take place, it is always on 
the day following the departure of the third.* 

It may appear surprising that a hive can swarm so 
often without being too much weakened. The first 
swarm is frequently so large that the hive seems alto- 
gether deserted, yet, in eight or ten days afterwards, 
the population is in such abundance as to be able to 
send forth another colony. But we must remember 
* Feburier, Traite des Abeilles. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 14-5 

rliat swarms depart only during the warmest part of 
the day, when a full third of the workers are busily 
engaged in the fields ; these, returning home, resume 
their labours, and carry on the necessary operations 
of the hive. Besides, " the Queen has left an immense 
quantity of brood of all ages, which is soon hatched, 
and which renders the population as great after 
swarming as before. Thus the hive is perfectly 
capable of affording a second colony without being 
too much impoverished. The third and fourth swarms 
weaken it more sensibly, but the inhabitants always 
remain in sufficient numbers to preserve the course 
of their labours uninterrupted, and the losses are soon 
replaced by the gi-eat fecundity of the Queen. And, 
farther, many of -those workers who, in the agitation 
of the momentj had followed the crowd, do not even- 
tually become members of the new colony. When 
the delirium attendant on swarming seizes on the 
bees, the whole rush forward, accumulate towards 
the entrance of the hive, and are heated in such a 
degree that they perspire copiously ; those near the 
bottom, and which support the weight of the rest, 
seem perfectly drenched, their wings grow moist, they 
are incapable of flight and, even when able to escape, 
they advance no farther than the alighting board of 
the hive, and soon return ; those, too, that have lately 
left their cells, remain behind the swarm, still feeble, 
for they could not support themselves in flight ; here, 
therefore, are also many recruits to people what we 
mav have thought a deserted habitation." * 
* Huber, p. 1 Go. 

K 



I-IG S WARMS. 

When the swarming is over in any particular hive, 
the new Queen, on the departure or death of the rest, 
and the restoration of the ordinary tranquility of the 
community, goes abroad on the following day, gene- 
rally the fifth of her existence, to meet the males, 
and is impregnated. Forty-six hours afterwards, she 
commences laying the eggs of workers, and continues 
to do so for the eleven succeeding months. This 
does not, however, hold strictly true in every case ; 
for it sometimes happens, if the season he favourable, 
that the swarm led off by the old Queen, produces, 
in about a month afterwards, a new colony, which is 
also headed by the same female. Before leaving the 
old hive, she had terminated \\q\ great laying of drone 
eggs, and thus became able to fly from her greater 
lightness, and to set out to found a new colony. In this 
she recommences the laying the eggs of workers, and 
continues to do so for ten or twelve days, after which 
she deposits a few drone eggs in cells which the bees, 
as if aware that she would require them, have already 
prepared for their reception. These male eggs, 
though few, are enough to encourage the bees to 
construct royal cells ; and if, in these circumstances, 
the weather be favourable, a swarm may be formed, 
and the same Queen depart at its head. Nor is this 
variation in the swarming operations restricted to the 
instance of the old Queen ; we have known two or 
three instances in which a young Queenj that is,, a 
Queen of the current year, after leading off, as in 
ordinary circumstances, an after-swarm, has again 
issued with another swarm from her new habitation. 



THE HONEY-BEE. ] 47 

This fact, which, it must be acknowledged, occurs 
very seldom, is at variance with the doctrine of Huber, 
that the young Queen lays the eggs of workers only 
for eleven months successively. He admits, though 
not very explicitly, that a Queen hatched in spring 
may lay fifty or sixty drone eggs during the course 
of the ensuing summer, but he refers to the swarm 
led forth by the old Queen, exclusively, when he 
speaks of its producing a new colony in the same 
season in the course of a month after its first de- 
parture. With respect to the eleven months, it cer- 
tainly consists with our own experience, that, as Fe- 
burier asserts, the time occupied by the Queen in 
laying the eggs of workers before she begins that 
of drones, and, of course, those that shall produce 
Queens and their accompanying swarms, varies ac- 
cording to the temperature, and especially to the 
abundance of food. A swarm, for example, that 
came off at the end of June, sometimes throws o.^ 
a swarm about the middle of the follou'ing May, which 
is little more than ten months of an interval, and, 
on the other hand, it sometimes happens that a hive 
which has swarmed at the middle of May, does not 
throw another till the end of June in the follow- 
ing year, which is above 13 months. 

On the Diseases and Enemies of Bees. — Much 
exaggeration has prevailed amongst apiarians on the 
subject of the diseases of bees, many of which, or 
rather most of which, seem, on careful examination, 
to have no existence but in the imagination of the 
observers. After long experience and attentive ob- 



148 DISEASES OF BEES. 

servation, we are satisfied that this insect is subject 
only to one malady,, namely, dysentery. Vertigo has 
been spoken of by many writers, especially en the 
continent, as one of their ailments, but, we think, 
without sufficient grounds. We have occasionally 
seen bees in that state of dizziness which is ascribed 
to vertigo, but have invariably found that when seized 
and held in the hand for a second or two, and again 
let go, they return to their usual occupation without 
any marks of disease. Sieelling of the antennce is 
also mentioned as a bee-malady, — we have never 
seen an instance of it, and, from its being unnoticed 
even by many of those naturalists who have furnished 
long lists of the disorders of bees, it seems to have as 
little foundation in reality as vertigo. In fact, dysentery 
appears to be the only serious disorder to which these 
insects are liable, and various causes have been as- 
signed for it, such as their feeding on honey-dew, on 
the juices of certain fruits, on plants of a poisonous 
nature, on honey alone without a due mixture of 
pollen, &c. &c. No evidence from accurate experi- 
ment has been adduced in favour of these theories, 
and, perhaps, their inapplicability is established by 
the fact that a well peopled hive is never assailed by 
this disorder, provided its inmates are in the full en- 
joyment of their liberty. We are led to conclude, 
therefore, that it proceeds simply from long confine- 
ment, by which the necessary evacuations are pre» 
vented. It is well known that the bees, when in 
health, never void their excrement within the hive. 
When their owners, therefore, from mistaken care. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 149 

remove them into a dwelling-house in order to shelter 
them from the winter's cold^ or when a long track of 
inclement weather confines them within doors, they 
are obliged to retain their faeces so long that the con- 
sequence is an attack of dysentery. Its existence is 
easily detected ; the floor-hoard and the combs are 
covered with stains produced by the excrement, of a 
dark brown colour, and which diffuse through the hive 
a most oifensive smell, and this last circumstance, no 
doubt, contributes to augment the evil, for the bees 
and brood, inhaling only an unwholesome air, must 
be fatally affected. 

ETiemies of Bees. — The enemies of bees are nume- 
rous, though many of them are by no means formi- 
dable. Swallows, spiders, ants, frogs, wood-lice, poul- 
try, small birds of almost every kind, are all reckoned 
amongst their foes, but their ravages are trifling, and 
seem to have for their object rather the dead bodies 
than the living insects. During the time of the mas- 
sacre of the drones, we have often seen blackbirds 
stealing from among the bushes near the apiary, in the 
autumnal evenings, and carrying off, one by one, the 
whole of the carcases of the males that had been 
destroyed during the day ; we have never observed 
them attackino; the livinoj insect. There is a kind of 
beetle also, {Clerus Apiarius, PI. VIII. fig. 1,) which, 
according to Aristotle, inhabits bee-hives, and which, 
while yet in the larva state, feeds on the larvss of the 
bees ; we have never heard of any instance of such 
being met with, or injurious to bees in this country. 
More to be dreaded ^\q field-mice 3 AA'hich sometimes 



150 ENEMIES OF BEES. 

gain access to the interior^, and ultimately ruin the 
hive. But this takes place only in winter^ when the 
bees are languid or partially torpid, and when there is 
a lack of vigilance on the part of their owner. A still 
more formidable enemy is the wax-moth, ( Tinea Mel- 
lonella, PL VIII. fig. 2,) of whose ravages Feburier has 
given a long and minute detail. This insect is ex- 
tremely alert in discovering any crevice by which it 
may penetrate into the hive, and easily effects its pur- 
pose if the bees are not numerous, and there is no 
centinel on the watch. They lay their eggs in the 
sides of the hive, or in the rubbish on the floor, or 
even in the combs which are farthest from the entrance. 
Every egg contains an insect, which, in due time be- 
comes a moth. It appears first under the form of a 
worm or larva, and it is in this stage that it commits 
its ravages, extending its galleries or covered ways 
throughout everyquarterof the interior, and devouring, 
not honey or wax, neither of which substances seems 
to be its proper food, but the exuvise of bee nymphs, 
and, very probably, the nymphs themselves. Certain 
it is that the population of a hive infested by these 
destructive creatures, diminishes with such rapidity as 
leads to the conclusion that they prey upon the brood 
itself as well as on its exuvise. The bees give ground 
step by step, until, being greatly reduced in numbers, 
they at last utterly abandon the hive. Another moth 
of a kind dangerous to bees is mentioned by Huber, 
namely, the Sphynx Atropos, or Death's-head Hawk- 
moth, so called from its having on its thorax a mark 
somewhat resembling a death's-head (See PI. IX.) 



THE HONEY-BEE. 3 51 

This insect is of gigantic size_, and is endowed with 
great strength, and it is conjectured by Huber to 
possess a faculty like that which he supposes to reside 
in the Queen-bee, of emitting a certain sound which 
strikes the bees with terror, and thus enables it to 
extend its ravages with impunity. While in the cater- 
pillar state, it feeds on the leaves of the potato, and 
makes its appearance in its last and perfect state to- 
wards the end of summer. It is described as most 
injurious to the bees on the continent, and in some 
parts of Africa; fortunately it is seldom seen in 
this country.* Wasps, particularly those of the 
hornet species, are most destructive to bees. We 
have often observed one of these marauders enter a 
hive with fearless intrepidity, and, watching its motions 
through the glazed frame, have been astonished by its 
feats of strength and agility. In ascending the combs 
it is, of course, instantly attacked by the rightful in- 
habitants ; if one only venture to assail it, the unfor- 
tunate bee has no chance of victory, and but little of 
escaping with life ; if five or six cluster round it, as 
is generally the case, and cling close to its body, en- 
deavouring to pierce it with their stings, their eiforts 
are set at nought by the intrepid wasp, which struggles 
with unwearied obstinacy, rolls along the floor of the 
hive so closely enveloped in a mass of bees, that but 
little of its body is visible, and though at last it is 
forced by overwhelming numbers to take to flight, it 
flies ofl^ apparently uninjured from the conflict. These 
* A more detailed account of it will be found in that volume 
of the Naturalist's Library which treats of British moths and 
hawk-motha, p. 133. 



152 ENEMIES OF BEES. 

partial attacks of single wasps, however, are of little 
moment, farther than that they are, perhaps, explo- 
ratory ; it is when they come in a hody that the safety 
of a hive is endangered; in such cases the utmost 
care of the hee-master is often unavailing. The wdly 
insects soon discover the weakness of any particular 
hive in point of population, and, acting on this disco- 
very, attack it in such numbers, that nothing but its 
removal can save it from speedy and utter destruction. 

Bad as wasps are, the Bees themselves are the 
worst enemies to their own species. In a back- 
Avard spring, or toward the end of autumn, when the 
population begins 'to be scanty, some bees may be 
observed lounging about the apiary, as if conscious 
that there was no present scope for the exercise of 
honest industry, and, like other idlers, seem ripe for 
any mischief. A single bee may be seen peering 
into the entrances of several hives, as if to ascertain 
the strength of the population, or the vigilance of 
the guards ; and on finding access from a deficiency 
in either of these particulars, proceeds to carry off 
its load from the store-cells. After frequently re- 
peating these domiciliary visits, it returns at last with 
several of its companions, their numbers increasing 
at every visit, till the hive becomes a scene of pillage 
and slaughter. Their first endeavours are, it is said, 
to find out and kill the Queen ; and after this catas- 
trophe, the rightful owners seem to lose all interest 
in their property, and associating at last with the 
robbers, join in the plunder of their own stores.* 

* Old Butler, in his " Feminine Monarchies'' pviblished at 



THE IIONEY-EEE. 153 

Cold, generally speaking, is prejudicial to bees. 
When tempted by a bright sun after a fall of snow, 

Oxford in 1634, gives, in his quaint way, an amusing descrip- 
tion of a scene of bee-pillage. After particularizing various 
enemies to the honey-gathering tribe, he proceeds — " But not 
any on* of des«, nor all des* togeder, doo half so muc harm to 
de Bees, as de Bees. Apis api, tit homo homhii, Lupus. Dey 
mak de greatest spoil bot of bees and of hoonnie. Dis rob- 
bing is practised all de yeer. In winter, soom wil bee prowl- 
ing abroad ; and soom ar so teevishly disposed, dat all de 
soommer long, wen abundance of hoonni is every wer to bee 
had, dey wil yet bee filcing, dowg (though) dey di^ for it. But 
in Virgo (August) is de most dangerous tim^ of all : den sal 
all de stalls in your garden bee tryed of wat mettle dey ar 
mad«. De Robbers ar towgt (thought) to bee poor swarms 
and stoks, wic hav^ not sufficiently provided demselvs for win- 
ter. But indeed, sue ar fitter to bee robbed dan to be robbers. 
Der is no teef to de rich tee/: wo (who) aldowg (although) hee 
hav^ enoug, and mor dan enoug ; yet, by hook or by crook, 
hee will hav« mor®, dowg de poor starv* for it. Wen de teeves, 
having first mad^ an entri, begin to coom tik, and de tru® bees 
perceiv* demselvs to bee assaulted by many ; dey suddenly 
mak« an outcri® ; and issuing out of deir holds by troops, pre- 
pare demselvs to battel. Soom keep de gat^s ; soom fli® about ; 
soom run in again, to see wat is doon der® ; soom begin to 
grapple wid de enimi ; and dat wit sue a noise and din, as if 
de drum did sound an all-arm. Besides wic bas® sound, you 
sal eftsoons in de heat of de battel, hear a mor® shril and 
sharp not®, as it wer® of a flut® ; as saith Virgil, 

'= Vox 

Auditur fractos sonitus imitata tubarum," 

wic, I am out of doubt, is tuned by deir generall commander, 

encooraging dem to figt for deir Princ®, deir lives, and deir 

goods. Den sal you see de enimi®s bestur demselves most 

venturously ; soom violently, toorrow de tickest, trusting in 

at de gat®s ; oders scalling de walls, and tearing dem down. 

On de oder sid®, de defendants will behav® demselves as brave- 



154 ENEMIES OF BEES. 

a few have left their comfortable dwelling, they are 
quickly chilled, and in a very short period are past 
recovery. But with ordinary precautions, in stop- 
ping crevices, and providing a sufficient external co- 
vering, a well-peopled and well-provided hive runs 
no hazard from even the severest winter. Consist- 
ently with that wisdom that shines forth in every 
part of creation, insects that feed upon leaves, flowers, 
and green succulent plants are generally in a torpid 
state during the winter, when they cannot procure 
for themselves subsistence abroad. Bees are in this 
state, and eat little, while cold weather lasts ; but 

ly, not giving any rest to de enimi ; part encountring wit dem 
dat ar widout, part wit dem dat hav^ broken in, wom^ in a 
wile dey draw out by de heels, sooni ded, and soom aliv^. 
Lik^wis®, witout, you may see soom slain outrigt wit de trust 
of de speer ; soom so dedly woonded, dat dey ar^ not able to 
go tree foot from de plac^ ; and soom more lightly strooken, 
presently to los® de us« of deir wings, and for a wile to leap up 
and down, forward and backward, lik^ madd tings ; so lot" ar 
dese cooragious warriers to yeeld on eider sid« until der^ bee 
no remedi^. If de tru^ men cannot kil de teev% yet wil dey 
hold dem by de legs or by de wings, in hop^ to hav^ help, 
dowg (though) dey bee drawn after. Moreover, de young sol- 
diers, wic hav® scare® been abroad befor®, you sal see de elder 
sort go round about dem, smooding (smoothing) and trimming 
dem in every plac% as if dey did address and hearten dem to 
figt. De battel being ended, by repuls of de enimi, dos« 
corpses wic de wasps hav® left — for, like vulturs, de wasps 
during de battel prey upon de ded carkases — dey honestly 
buri as far from de hives as dey can ber® dem. And den dey 
draw togeder at de citti-gat^s, and der« dey buz on® to anoder, 
as if in deir language dey did talk of de figt, and commend 
on® and oder for deir fortitud®." 



THE HOXEV-EEE. 155 

tliey are by no means in so complete a state of tor- 
pidity as to eat none at all. On a mild day in win- 
ter^ when the sun shines and the wind is low, we 
often observe them eagerly taking advantage of this 
favourable temperatm'e, and coming abroad in hun- 
dreds to enjoy themselves in the open air. If we 
open a leaf-hive in the very depth of the cold sea- 
son, we shall find them closely clustered together, 
but in near contact with the provision-cells ; and 
the whole mass moving without separating, and by 
this means doubtless contributing to preserve the 
general warmth. 

It has been made a question among Bee-writers, 
whether a mild or a severe winter be most favourable 
to the health and well-being of these insects ? Bon- 
ner and others are advocates for mild winters; while 
White, Bevan, &g., maintain that severe winters are 
most salutary. We are of opinion that the question 
admits not of a ^^wero;/ determination, but that special 
regard must be had to the state of the hives — a cir- 
cumstance which has been too little taken into ac- 
count in the discussion. In a well-found hive, it is 
of very little importance to the inhabitants of what 
nature the winter may be. If it is severe, they have 
enough of internal heat to preserve them from the 
severity of the external atmosphere. Huber found 
that when the thermometer in the open air stood 
several degrees below the freezing point, it rose, when 
plunged into a populous hive, to 86 and 88 degrees. 
Swammerdam observes that the heat of a hive is such, 
even in the middle of winter, that the honey never 



15G ENEMIES OF CKES. 

crystallizes, unless the hive be very weakly peopled. 
Reaumur found brood of all ages in the month of 
January ; and the same thing was experienced by 
Huber, when the thermometer vidthin the hive stood 
at 93^. If, on the other hand, the winter be mild, 
the bees consume food partially, and frequently go 
abroad into the open air ; and by thus voiding their 
excrement preserve themselves in health. But the 
case is far otherwise with a hive thin in population, 
and scantily provisioned. In severe weather, their 
numbers are too few to keejD up the vital warmth, 
and they are in imminent danger of perishing, should 
the cold continue for a lengthened period. Should 
the winter be mild, they consume their stores ; and 
on the arrival of spring, if they still survive, they run 
the hazard of perishing of hunger. We are decidedly 
of opinion, therefore, that the temperature of the 
winter has much less influence on the prosperity of 
the apiary, than is generally imagined ; and that the 
bees coming safely through that inclement season, 
depends in almost every case on the abundance of 
population and o£ food. There may be one excep- 
tion to these general rem.arks : — In a mild winter, a 
hive which is thinly peopled, but well-stored with 
food, has a chance of escaping. But even in this 
case, we cannot always count on its well-doing, though 
its failure may arise from a different cause. Want 
of numbers is injurious, not only because it is accom- 
panied with the want of the requisite warmth, but 
also because it seems greatly to dispirit the bees ; 
and we have seen many instances of hives deserted 



THE HONEY-BEE. 157 

in Spring wLile sufficient!}' provided with honey, but 
disheartened by paucity of numbers. Nevertheless, 
famine is one of the worst enemies they have to en- 
counter j and many hives that are supposed to die of 
cokl, do in iact die of hunger. 

It will be obvious to the reader, that, in our enu- 
meration of the enemies of bees, we have referred 
exclusively to those which infest the European hive- 
bee. The various tribes of honey-gathering insects 
found in tropical regions, have to encounter foes of 
a still more formidable kind ; and, in treating of 
foreign bees, Ave shall have occasion to point out 
enemies, both amongst the feathered race and amongst 
quadrupeds, whose ravages far exceed any injuries 
sustained by our domesticated bee. 

Practical Management. — The Apia7y. — In the 
practical management of bees, the formation and due 
arrangement of the apiary is of some importance. Tlie 
prime requisites are shelter from the extremes of heat, 
and cold, and quiet. Facing southwards, the hives 
should be carefully screened from the north and 
north-east. A group of young trees, or a close-grow- 
ing hedge, will answer the purpose well ; or advan- 
tage may be taken of a range of buildings, or a garden 
wall. In availing ourselves, however, of the shelter 
of buildings, care must be taken to keep the hives at 
such a distance as to be clear of the rain-drops, and 
from the eddying winds caused by such a locality. A 
distance of not less th^in eight or ten feet should in- 
tervene between them and the screen; and of this 
space the half-breadth next the hives should be laid 



158 APIARIES. 

with fine gravel, to absorb the moisture, and keep it 
free from weeds, grass, straws, &c. The space of 
ground between and in front of the hives, to the ex- 
tent of at least three feet, "should bo covered in the 
same manner. 

Quiet is essentially necessary to their doing well. 
Bees do not thrive in the near neighbourhood of in- 
cessant noise. The apiary, therefore, should be at a 
distance from smithies, mills, steam-engines, &c., and 
also from such manufactories as emit noisome smells. 
When circumstances will admit of it, the apiary should 
be placed in view from the windows of the family 
sitting-room. This will save much of the trouble in- 
curred in watching at swarming time, as well as give 
greater security from marauders. The hives should 
be elevated about fifteen inches from the ground, on 
a single post or pedestal, in preference to three or 
four, which is the usual number. Vermin are thus 
prevented by the projecting edge of the floor-board 
from climbing over and reaching the entrance. It 
may be laid down as a good rule to have the hives 
placed as far from one another as the extent of the 
apiary will admit. When standing at intervals of 
only two or three feet, the bees are very apt to quarrel 
amongst themselves. They sometimes mistake their 
own proper domiciles when too much crowded 
together, especially when hurrying homewards in the 
working season, or hastening to escape a shower, and 
the mistake is attended with fatal consequences. In 
feeding a weak hive, a close neighbourhood is parti- 
cularly dangerous ; the smell of the syrup is quickly 



THE HONEY-BEE. 1,3[> 

diffused over the wLole colony,, and pillage generally 
ensues. In swarming, too, when the newly departed 
emigrants are discouraged by a sudden blast or change 
of atmosphere, and the Queen hastens to return to 
her old abode, her ignorance of the locality, having, if 
a young queen, never been abroad before, renders 
her very apt to mistake and enter a hive where she 
is by no means welcome, and, the swarm following 
her, a bloody conflict takes place. All these incon- 
veniences point out the propriety of a large interval 
between the hives, and this arrangement is especially 
called for when, as in very extensive apiaries, the 
hives are placed in double rows. We do not approve 
of double rows ; they occasion great confusion often 
in the swarming season. If the number of hives be 
too large for a single row, let there be a second group 
formed in another quarter of the grounds. This de- 
tached apiary will be found useful in such operations 
as require the temporary removal of stock-hives from 
their original stations. 

Some difference of opinion exists among Bee-mas- 
ters as to the precise exposure which the apiary ought 
to have. In fact, this must be regulated by the nature 
of the climate ; and it is obvious that the hives ought 
not to face the direction of the prevailing winds, 
or the rainy quarter. But, generally speaking, a 
southerly aspect is preferable, inclining, perhaps, a 
point or two to the east. This is Feburier's opinion, 
and we think him right. If the bees are induced, in 
consequence of this easterly inclination, to venture out 
in the chill of the morning, they have the advantage 



1 60 APIAKIES. 

of the increasing warmtli of the day; whereas, a 
western exposure tempts them to continue their ex- 
cursion, and linger in the fields till they are caught 
bv the evening cold. 

When the apiary is situated in a garden, there 
will be no want of bushes and low-growdng shrubs 
on which the bees may alight when swarming. But 
when it is located on a lawn or smooth level, the 
swarm is extremely apt to fly off altogether, or to 
take up its station on some high tree in the vicinity, 
from which it is difficult to dislodge iX. A few 
ever- green shrubs growing in front of the hives, and 
at a few yards' distance, will prevent this. Or if such 
an arrangement be, from particular circumstances, not 
expedient, the evil may be so far remedied by sticking 
into the ground, near the apiary, some branches of trees^ 
retaining their foliage, about the period when swarm- 
ing may be expected. Water is essential to the opera- 
tions of these insects during spring and summer ; a 
shallow^ pebbly stream in the vicinity will, therefore, 
be most advantageous, where they can drink with- 
out danger of drowning. Its absence should be sup- 
plied by artificial means ; and a shallow vessel oi 
water placed in a secluded and quiet quarter of the 
apiary, having a few smooth round stones thrown 
into it, of a size to project above the surface, and 
afford footing to the drinkers, will answer the end. 
The neighbourhood of large sheets of w^ater, how- 
ever, or of broad rivers, is injurious; the little foragers, 
in crossing during high winds or dashing rains, per- 
ish by hundreds in a single day. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 161 

Covered apiaries, or bee-houses, are common in 
England, and are sometimes, though rarely, met with 
in Scotland ; they have their advantages, but are 
not Avithout serious drawbacks. They afford shel- 
ter from the extremes of heat and cold, and, when 
properly constructed, are also a complete protec- 
tion from thieves. But when the number of hives 
is great, the expense of such structures is so con- 
siderable as to preclude entirely their being brought 
into common use. Besides, their confined limits 
render it necessary to place the hives quite close to 
one another — an arrangement which we have already 
noticed as a great evil. And, finally, in operating 
experimentally on any particular hive, the whole 
colony is apt to take the alarm, and to cause a degree 
of confusion most inconvenient to the operator. 
There are covered apiaries sometimes to be met with, 
the superior construction of which precludes these 
evils ; but a much greater number have fallen under 
our observation where the cheapness of the erection 
has interfered materially with their completeness 
and utility. The disadvantages above specified may 
all be avoided in open apiaries ; while in these last, 
also, all the advantages for which the former are pre- 
ferred, are, we are persuaded, perfectly attainable. 
A good thick coat of oat or rye-straw, if the hives 
be of that material ; or, if of timber, a well-seasoned 
and painted snrtout of fir-plank, three-fourths of an 
inch in thickness, resting on the floor-board, and hav- 
ing a vacant space of an inch between it and the hive, 
will be quite sufficient security against the extremes 
of heat and cold. 

L 



1G2 APIABIES. 

Protection from thieves has been sought for in va- 
rious contrivances, certainly not all of them effectual. 
Feburier cites Lombard's method of security, which 
consists in fastening a chain to one of the four supports 
of the floor-board, bringing it over the top of the 
hive, turning it once round, then taking it down on 
the opposite side, and fixing it with a padlock to 
another of the supports. Huish has improved upon 
this, placing an iron hoop round the body of the hive, 
having another fastened to it at right angles, and 
brought over the top, and both attached to a chain, 
the two ends of which are secured by a padlock to 
the post which supports the hive. (See PI. XX. fig. 5.) 
The security aflforded by either of these methods is 
about as effectual as that which is afforded by " a 
lock upon leather" — to use an expression proverbial 
in Scotland ; for a thief would hardly be deterred by 
the complicated apparatus of chains and hoops, or 
take the trouble of unwinding them, when in a mi- 
nute's space, he could either pi^k the lock, or with 
a saw cut through the three -inch post, and carry off 
the whole concern. Ho watson's mode is better. "The 
support of the hive is of malleable iron, having a 
single stem below, but parted into three, or rather 
four, branches above, on the top of which branches 
the board of the hive rests. The lower part of the 
stem is fastened with lead into a large shapeless stone, 
sunk to a level with the surface of the ground." To 
this stem is fastened an apparatus of chains and hoops, 
similar to that of Lombard and Huish. 

Of course it is highly in favour of the bees when the 



THE HONEY-BEE. lb'3 

apiary is situated in a comitry abounding with such 
natural productions as the industrious insect can turn 
to account. Large heaths, sheltered with woods, are 
extremely productive of honey, as the wild th>nue and 
other flowering plants with which they abound, are 
not cut dowii by the scythe ; and the heath itself re- 
mains in bloom till late in the season. The plane- 
tree, the whole willow tribe, the furze or whin, the 
broom, especially the Spanish kind, furnish a rich 
store both of honey and farina. The bees do not 
feed indiscriminately on every species of flowers ; 
several of the most splendid and odoriferous are 
wholly neglected by them, while they select others, 
the flowers of which are extremely small, and not 
apparently possessed of any very valuable qualities. 
Moreover, they give a decided preference to those 
spots where a great quantity of their favourite flowers 
grow together. On the continent, fields of buck- 
wheat afford a copious supply, though the honey ex- 
tracted from it is of a coarser kind ; and in our own 
country, the white clover (Trifelium repens), will, 
in fine weather, be found thronged with them, while 
scattered plants that afford more honey are neglected. 
When a variety of bee-flowers flourish in the same 
field, it is said they will first collect from those which 
furnish the best honey ; if, for example, several 
species of th}Tne grow together, they prefer the 
lemon thyme, which is of a richer fragrance. 

The Bee-master will do well to supply his fa- 
vourites with such flowers, &c. as are not found 
growing spontaneously in his neighbourhood. In 



164 APIARIES. 

addition to the gooseberry, currant, and raspberry 
bushes, and the several orchard trees, the flower- 
borders in his garden should be well stocked with 
snow-drops, crocuses, wall-flower, and, above all, with 
mignonette, which aflbrds honey of the richest flavour, 
and which continues flowering till the near approach 
of winter. The rich melHferous blossoms of the 
Buddlea globosa, too, the bees are very fond of; and 
some of the Cacalia tribe aflford an ample store. 
" The Cacalia suaveolens," says Darwin, '' produces 
so much honey, that on some days it may be smelt 
at a great distance from the plant. I remember once 
counting on onie of these plants, besides bees of vari- 
ous kinds without number, above 200 painted butter- 
flies, which gave it the beautiful appearance of being 
covered with additional flowers."* Besides these, the 
plants of Borage, (Borgigo,) and viper's Bugloss, 
(Echium vulgare) yield a very considerable quantity 
of the rich liquid. The former is eagerly resorted to 
by the Bees ; it is an annual, and blossoms during the 
whole season till destroyed by frost. In cold and 
showery weather, the Bees feed on it in preference 
to every other plant, owing to its flowers being pendu- 
lous. The Bugloss appears as a troublesome weed 
among corn, and grows on dry soils in great profusion ; 
it is a biennial plant. Turnips, particularly the early 
garden kind, should be sown and allowed to remain 
in their beds during the winter; and they will in 
consequence, by their early flowering, affbrd a season- 

* Economy of Vegetation, Canto IV. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 16.5 

able supply of farina, and also a small portion of 
honey early in spring. The whole cabbage-tribe 
also may be made to contribute their share ; and 
mustard- seed, when sown in successive crops, will 
continue blossoming for many weeks. 

We cannot conclude these observations on the situa- 
tion of the Apiary, without reminding the classical 
reader of the admirable directions on the same subject 
by Virgil. In fact, there is not a precept given by 
the Roman Poet on the practical treatment of Bees, 
particularly as respects the situation of the Apiary, 
which is not found at this day, and after the experience 
of so many centuries, to be the result of an accurate 
knowledge of the habits of these insects, and highly 
conducive to their prosperity. While we smile at 
the fable of Aristaeus, and plume ourselves on our 
more correct understanding of their natural history, 
the most skilful Apiarian among us will do well to 
listen to his practical directions. 

Principio, secies apibus, statioque petenda 
Q,uo neque sit ventis aditus (nam pabula venti 
Ferre domum prohibent) * * * « 
Absint et picti squalentia terga lacerti 
Pinguibus a stabulis, meropesque, aliseque vohicres ; 

******* 
Neu propius tectis Taxum sine ^ * * » 

altag neu crede paliidi, 
Aut ubi odor cceni gravis • * * * * 
At liquid! fontes, et stagna viventia musco 
Adsint, et tenuis fugiens per gramina rivus ; 
Palmaque vestibulum, aut ingens oleaster inumbret ; 
Obviaque hospitiis teneat frondentibus arbos. 
In medium, seu stabit iners, seu profluet humor, 



166 APIARIES. 

Transversas salices, et grandia conjice saxa : 
Pontibus ut crebris possint consistere, et alas 
Pandere ad aestivum solem ; si forte morantes 
Sparserit, aut prseceps Neptuno immerserit Eurus. 
Haec circum casise virides, et olentia late 
Serpylla et graviter spirantis copia thymbrae 
Floreat : irriguumque bibant violaria fontem. 

Georg. iv. 

Hives are found of almost all shapes and sizes, and 
of various materials — circumstances influenced some- 
times by convenience, but oftener by the taste and 
fancy of the ovrners. In France, particularly, where 
the culture of the Bee has been much attended to, 
the variety of hives is very great ; but with few ex- 
ceptions, they appear to be remarkably deficient in 
simplicity. This is an important point to be attended 
to, both as regards the accommodation of the bees, 
and the convenience of the Bee-master. As far as 
respects the mere collection and storing of the honey, 
the kind of hive is but of secondary importance. If 
the season be propitious, and the country rich in 
flowers, the industrious collectors will cheerfully de- 
posit the fruit of their labours in any moderate-sized 
receptacle that appears to affbrd security and shelter. 
It is the interest of the owner, however, to ascertain 
what material and construction will answer best for 
sustaining an equable temperature during the heats 
of summer, and most effectually secure the comfort 
of the inmates during the severity of winter. And, 
besides these indispensable requisites, there are other 
considerations to be attended to in the structure of 
hives which, to the Naturalist and Amateur, are 



THE HONEY-BEE. 167 

matters of no little moment. It would far exceed 
our prescribed limits to attempt a description of the 
multitude of hives that the ingenuity of one class of 
Bee-masters has invented, and another has improved 
upon. We shall, therefore, notice those only that 
are in general use, and those which, from their great 
utility, deserve to be better known. 

Straw Hives, of the common bell-shape, with all 
their imperfections, will continue in use, because they 
are easily made and cost little — because the handling 
of them requires little skill — and because, as long as 
the suffocating system is persisted in, they answer the 
purpose well enough. It would be • desirable, how- 
ever, that more pains were bestowed on their form. 
To concentrate the heat — to retain it, and thus to 
accelerate the hatching of the brood, on which so 
much depends, no shape in our opinion is so well 
adapted as the globular. We would therefore re- 
commend straw-hives to be made in the form of a 
globe, having the third of its diameter cut away. (See 
PI. XX. fig. 1.) Perhaps, the cycloidal shape would 
answer nearly as well, and would be probably more 
easily made. (Fig. 2.) In either of these forms, one 
rod of three-fourths of an inch thickness, forced 
through the hive at right angles to a line drawn from 
the entrance, and about an inch higher up than the 
centre, would be sufficient to support the combs, be- 
cause the mouth of the hive being of less diameter 
than the centre, the combs, from their wedge-like 
shape at the lower extremity, would not be so apt 
to sink down by their own weight. We m.ay mention 



168 HIVES. 

as our reason for the above recommendation, that we 
have uniformly found that such of our straw-hives as 
approached nearest the shape recommended, have 
been, ceteris paribus, the first to swarm, and have 
swarmed the oftenest. We had till lately in our 
possession, one of the form fig. 2, which had for three 
successive years thrown each year three swarms. 

Wildmari s Storied Straw Hive. — This is preferred 
by many to wooden hives on the same plan, from the 
persuasion that £traw is a preferable material. It 
consists of two or more stories, each seven inches in 
height, and ten iucljes in diameter. In the u])per 
row of straw, there is a hoop of about half an inch 
in breadth, to which are fastened six or seven wooden 
spars, each one-fourth of an inch thick, and one and 
a quarter of an inch broad, and half an inch apart 
from each other. To these bars the bees fix their 
combs. In order to give greater steadiness to the 
combs, and prevent their being broken or deranged 
when the hive is moved, a rod is run through the 
middle of it, in a direction across the bars, or at right 
angles with them. A flat cover of straw, worked of 
the same thickness as the hives, and twelve inches in 
diameter, is applied to the uppermost story, " made 
fast to the hive with a packing-needle and thread," 
and carefully luted. Before it is put on, a piece of 
clean paper, of the size of the top of the hive, should 
be laid over the bars, the design of which is to pre- 
vent the bees from working in the intervening spaces. 
(PI. XIII. fig. 3.) 

Grecian Hive. — This has long been in use in the 



THE HONEY BEE. 169 

Greek Islands, and is sometimes called the Candiote 
Hive. It is in the form of a flower-pot, open at the 
top, and provided with a flat cover in the same man- 
ner as the hive last described. As in this last, also, 
a certain number of bars are fastened to the upper- 
most roll of straw, each designed for the foundation 
of a comb ; and when prepared for use, the cover is 
laid above these bars, fixed at the edges by wooden 
pins, or sewed with pack-thread, and having the 
joining carefully plastered with clay. (See Plate 
X., fig. 4.) This hive affords considerable faci- 
lities for forcing the bees to work in wax. It is only 
necessary to remove one or two of the combs, and 
the bees will immediately commence filling up the 
vacancies. In this way, a portion of their honied 
stores may be abstracted without difficulty, and with- 
out having recourse to the barbarous practice of suf- 
focation. It affords also the means of making arti- 
ficial swarms. It will be observed that in conse- 
quence of the diameter of the hive gradually dimin- 
ishing towards the bottom, rods inserted through the 
body of the hive are rendered unnecessary, the 
wedge-like form of the combs serving sufficiently to 
support them. " The hives," says Wheeler in his 
Journey into Greece, " are made of willows or osiers, 
fashioned like our common dust-baskets, wide at top, 
and narrow at the bottom, and plastered with clay or 
loam within and without. The tops are covered with 
broad flat sticks, which are also plastered over with 
clay ; and, to secure them from the weather, they 
cover them with a tuft of straw as we do. Along 



] 70 HIVES. 

each of these sticts, the bees fasten their combs ; so 
that a comb may be taken out whole, and with the 
greatest ease imaginable. To increase them in spring- 
time, (that is, to make artificial swarms,) they divide 
them, first, separating the sticks on which the combs 
anrl bees are fastened from one another with a knife ; 
so taking out the first comb and bees together on each 
side, they put them into another basket in the same 
order as they were taken out, until they have equally 
divided them. After this, when they are both again 
accommodated with sticks and plaster, they set the 
new basket in place of the old one, and the old one 
in some new place. And all this they do in the 
middle of the day, at such time as the greatest part 
of the bees are abroad ; who, at their coming home, 
without much difficulty, by this means divide them- 
selves equally. In August, they take their honey, 
which they do in the day time also, the bees being 
thereby, say they, disturbed the least ; beginning at 
the outside, and so taking away, until they have left 
only such a quantity of combs in the middle as they 
judge will be sufficient to maintain the bees in winter ; 
sweeping those bees that are on the combs into the 
basket again, and covering them anew with sticks 
and plaster." Huish has adopted this hive with 
some additional apparatus. (See Plate X., fig. 5.) 
The cover, instead of being flat, as in the original 
hive, has considerable convexity, in order to facilitate 
the flowing of the water, produced by the condensed 
vapour, towards the circumference, instead of its be- 
ing allowed to drop on the bees. To prevent them 



THE HONEY BEE. 171 

from working in the spaces between the bars, and 
thus presenting an obstacle to their easy removal, he 
spreads over them a piece of gauze or net- work, sa- 
tisfied that the bees will not construct their edifices 
on so flimsy a foundation. Over the net-work he 
places a fiat round board, divided into several sections, 
each of which is moveable on hinges, and may be 
opened in one or more divisions, as it maybe desired 
to remove one or more combs. In this circular cover 
are several air-holes, closed with tin gratings, to al- 
low the heated air to escape. 

Lombard's Hive. — The only other straw-hive 
Avorthy of notice, known to us, is that of M. Lom- 
bard of Paris, the friend and correspondent of Huber, 
and author of a work on bees, which that distin- 
guished naturalist highly commends. This hive is 
in' some degree a storied one, and differs from others 
of that kind only in having its upper story less than 
half the capacity of the lower or body of the hive ;" 
and that, at the honey-harvest, the contents only of 
the former, which its inventor calls the Couvercle or 
Cap, are appropriated by the cultivator, while those 
of the latter continue from year to year the exclusive 
property of the bees themselves. Plate X., fig. 6, 
copied and reduced from Lombard's Work, gives 
a sketch of this hive, where a is the cap, surmount- 
ed by a pointed piece of wood, designed for the 
firmer fixing of the straw covering ; b is the body of 
the hive, having a thin square piece of deal fixed at 
the top as the foundation of the combs, leaving open 
spaces at each side for the passage of the bees ; c, c. 



172 HIVES. 

are two small rods which, on the top heing brought 
close down on the body b, serve, by being fastened 
together, to keep the former steadily in its place. 
This hive possesses no superiority over the common 
storied ones, of which it is a modification ; and the 
plan of retaining the same combs in the body of the 
hive for a series of years, must prove decidedly in- 
jurious to the prosperity of the colony. 

Of the straw hives here described, we give a de- 
cided preference to that of Wildman, both in respect 
to material and construction, maintaining, as it does, 
a constant equability of temperature, and enabling 
the operator to practise the mode of partial depriva- 
tion, which will be afterwards described. We think, 
however, the dimensions may be enlarged with ad- 
vantage, and would recommend the diameter to be 
12 inches instead of 10, and the height of each story 
to be 7^ inches instead of 7. This will bring the 
hive, when consisting of two stories, to the capacity 
of a solid foot. It will be of advantage, also, to have 
the upper and lower bands of each story worked 
double, the one exterior to the other, as represented 
in Plate X., fig. 3. This will contribute greatly to 
the steadiness of the hive, and afford the means of 
connecting the stories firmly together by pack-thread 
or wooden pins. 

Bee-Boxes. — The respective merits of straw-hives 
and bee-boxes have often been made the subject of 
discussion. Certainly those of straw have a decided 
superiority over those of wood, in respect to their 
capability of maintaining an equable temperature, 



THE HONEY-BEE, 173 

from the non-conducting quality of tlie material of 
\\liich tlie former are constructed. The latter are 
more easily kept clean — they furnish better means 
of defence against vermin — thev are a great deal 
more durable^ and afford a much greater facility for 
operating experimentally, and studying the nature of 
their interesting inmates. And what is always of 
importance in matters of rural economy, their cost, 
at least as regards the simpler kinds, is very little 
more than that of the straw hives ; and if we take 
their durability into account, it is actually less. But 
the nature of the material of which they are made» 
rendering them easily affected by variations of the 
external temperature, furnishes an important and 
well-founded objection ; for notwithstanding all the 
precautions used, no practicable or manageable thick- 
ness of material, nor wrappings of straw ropes and 
straw covers have been found effectual in remedying 
this defect. We are of opinion, therefore, that those 
who cultivate bees for the sake of their produce only, 
and who have no particular desire to study minutely 
their natural history, or to witness their proceedings 
in the interior of their dwellings, will do well to ad- 
here to hives of straw ; and of these, by far the best 
in our estimation, is the storied straw hive of Wild- 
man, already described. 

There is a greater variety of form and structure in 
the wooden hives, than in those of straw ; but the 
storied kinds, of various dimensions, are most gener- 
ally used. Wildman has invented one of this kind, 
for a long and somewhat unintelligible description of 



174 HIVES. 

which we must refer our readers to his treatise. It 
appears to be a very complex structure, and therefore 
so far ineligible ; for every bee-master^ in operating 
with his little irritable and impatient labourers, feels 
as very serious obstacles to his success, the machinery 
of drawers, dividers, sliders, grooves, &c. This form 
of the storied hive, accordingly, has never been brought 
into general use. A simpler construction has become 
popular. Ten years after Wildman's work was pub- 
lished, Mr. Keys published his Treatise, in which he 
gives his plan of a storied hive, the chief improvement 
of which consisted in the employment of the cross 
bars of the Grecian hive, and an-anged nearly in the 
same manner, instead of the complex and cumbrous 
sliding frames of Wildman's. Seven years ago, Mr. 
Howatson, in a useful little manual on bees, advocated 
a story-hive, in the construction of which he professes 
having endeavoured to combine the advantages of 
both Wildman's and that of Keys, while he aimed at 
greater simplicity, and a diminution of expense. We 
think he has succeeded in his views, and his success 
would be still more complete were the troublesome, 
and, in our opinion, unnecessary apparatus of " glass 
slips" dispensed with. " The boxes (PI. XI. fig. 1.) 
are made of fir-deal,* f of an inch thick ;" a full inch 
in thickness, and even a little more, would be an im- 
provement, — there would be less chance of the internal 
heat escaping, or of the external cold penetrating. 

* Poplar, in the opinion of T. A. Knight, Esq., would an- 
swer better, from its looser grain, and consequent non-con- 
ducting quality. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 175 

" The inside dimensions of each are 1 2 inches by 9, 
and 8 deep ; the whole depth of the step (hive) is 
therefore 16 inches, and its capacity one solid foot. 
Each box has 8 wooden spars, 1 inch broad} and f 
thick, as a foundation to the combs. The length of 
the upper side of each spar is 9^ inches, while the 
under side is only 9, a half-check, as tradesmen say, 
of 4- inch being made in the under side at each end. 
But the upper side of the spars must be flush with 
the upper edge of the boxes ; wherefore a check must 
be made to receive the spars in the long sides of the 
boxes also. The intervals between the spars in the 
upper box are closed with slips of glass, the ends of 
which rest on the same check as the spars. In the 
under box all the intervals are left open, not only that 
the bees may have a ready passage up and down, but 
also that the whole interior air may be of the same 
temperature." 

In Dr. Bevan's " Honey-Bee" we have the de- 
scription of another storied hive (PI. XI. fig. 2,) which 
differs from the last described only in dimensions, 
and in the number of bars ; the size of the former 
being 12 inches square, and 9 deep, inside measure ; 
and the bars six in number, and 1| inch broad. 
We have reason to know, however, that since the pub- 
lication of his excellent Treatise, Dr. B. has found 
reason for making some alteration in his hive, and that 
he now recommends the dimensions to be 12 inches 
between back and front at the top, but gradually 
tapering inwards to 10| inches at the bottom, with 
the view of supporting more firmly the weight of the 



176 HIVES. 

combs, which will thus have the form of a wedge, 
and 1 1 1 inches between end and end ; the bars to 
be ] I inch in breadth, 7 in nunriber, and to measure 
from the centre of one to the centre of another 1 finch.""^ 
He has also, on the suggestion of Mr. Golding, an 
intelligent Kentish apiarian, adopted another im- 
provement. To induce the bees to lay the foundation 
of their combs on the centre, and in the direction of the 
bars, instead of across the interstices, as they often 
do, thus preventing their easy removal when desired, 
Wildman spread over them a sheet of paper. Huish 
uses a covering of gauze, and Howatson inserts slips 
of olass : the two former from a belief that the builders 
would not erect their structure on so unstable a founds 
ation as paper or gauze ; and the latter, from a know- 
ledge of their dislike to the smooth and slippery surface 
of glass. Dr. B.'s method, recommended by his friend, 
is preferable to them all ; it consists in fixing to the 
under side of each bar a small piece of comb, and 
thus furnishing the bees with a line of direction which 
they will implicitly follow. The expedient of a guide- 
comb has been long known and practised, but the 
mode of attaching it to the bar adopted by Dr. B. is 
simple and ingenious. He pours a little melted wax 
on the under surface of the bar, and, while it is warm 
and in a liquid state, applies to it longitudinally a piece 
of guide-comb, taking care that the centre of the 
comb, formed by the bottoms of the cells, shall ex^ 

* The back and front boards, in consequence of the slope, 
measure in thickness one inch at the top, and rather more 
than one inch and six-eighths at the bottom. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 177 

actly correspond with the centre of the bar ; when 
the wax hardens, which it does in a few seconds,, the 
comb is firmly fixed. To save trouble, every second 
bar only need be furnished with this guide.* 

The storied hive appears to us simple and con- 
venient ; and it has this very decided advantage, 
that the use of it, as will be illustrated when treating 
of the honey-harvest, renders perfectly and com- 
pletely practicable the preservation of the life of the 
bees, and that, too, without any difficulty or nicety of 
operation that might scare the timid cultivator from 
the humane attempt. The storied hive affords, also, 
great facilities for uniting, at the end of the season, 
two weakly swarms, or two weakly provided hives. 
By means of smoke blown in at the door below of 
the two hives to be united, the bees are forced into 
the upper boxes, which are then separated and placed 
one above the other, thus forming a stock strong both 
in population and provisions, and securing, in all pro- 
bability, early swarming in the following season. 
Terrified by the smoke, the bees readily unite without 
bloodshed. 

Huber's Hive. — The hive invented by the cele- 
brated Huber, and which he has called the book or 
leaf-hive, possesses, in our estimation, more valuable 
properties, taken as a whole, than any other we are 
acquainted with. It has all the advantages of a com- 

• Since the above was written. Dr. Be van has published a 
Second Edition of his excellent work, where, in pages 82 and 
98, he gives detailed descriptions of the size and arrangements 
of his Bee-Boxes. 

M 



178 HIVES. 

mon bee-box, as to capacity, cleanliness, and security 
against vermin, while, at the same time, it enables the 
cultivator to ascertain at all times the state of his 
colony, nay, of every individual comb, the progress of 
the brood, the quantity of provision, the existence and 
number of royal cells, and the probable period of 
swarming. It affords every facility, too, for making 
artificial swarms, and for discovering the exact period 
when that operation may be attempted with a reason- 
able prospect of success. The greatest drawback is 
its expense,* which is such as as to preclude any but 
amateurs from having recourse to it. A figure of this 
hive, as used by Huber himself, is to be found in his 
" Observations on Bees ;" another of the same hive, 
as afterwards modified by him, has been given by 
M. Lombard, (Plate XL, fig. 3.) 

The leaf-hive consists of eight frames, each 18 
inches high,t English measure, and ten inches wide, 
inside, having the uprights and top cross pieces 1^ 
inch broad and one inch thick, so that the eight frames, 
when placed close together, constitute a hive, eigh- 
teen inches high, twelve inches between end and end, 
and ten inches between back and front, all inside 
measure. The frames are held together by a flat 
sliding bar on each side, secured by wedges and pins. 
To the first and eighth of these frames is attached a 
frame with glass, and covered with a shutter. The 
body of the hive is protected by a sloping roof, and 

* One Guinea is the usual price. 
'f Fourteen or fifteen inches at most would he a better size 
for the uprights. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 170 

the entrance is made through the thickness of the 
floor-board. We dislike the sliding bars, with their 
pins and wedges, which are so far inconvenient, that, 
in drawing them out, all the frames are liable to open, 
and the observer is exposed to some hazard of annoy- 
ance from the bees issuing out at every joint j and we 
have substituted for them hinges on the one side, and 
a hook and eye on each frame on the other ; we can 
thus open any particular leaf without meddling with 
the rest. In taking honey from this hive, the bee- 
master has the whole interior completely under his 
eye and at his disposal, and can choose what combs 
best suit his purpose, both as to quantity and quality ; 
taking care, however, to do so only at such periods 
as will leave the bees time to replenish the vacancy 
before the termination of the honey season. It is 
also well adapted for artificial swarming. By sepa- 
rating the hive into two halves, the honey, brood- 
combs, and bees will, generally speaking, be equally 
divided ; and by supplying each half with four empty 
frames, we shall have two hives, one half empty, 
equal in number of bees, of brood, and even of stores. 
One of the new hives will possess the Queen ; and if 
the operation has been performed at the proper time, 
that is to say, a week or ten days before the period 
of natural swarming, the probability is there will be 
royal brood coming forward in the other ; at all events, 
there will be plenty of eggs and larvae of the proper 
age for forming an artificial Queen. 

Single-comh Hive. — The celebrated naturalist. Bon- 
net, suggested and recommended to Huber the adop- 



1 80 HIVES. 

tion of a hive which should admit of only one comb, 
and that indefatigable apiarian soon succeeded in con- 
structing one, the sides of which, composed of glass, 
were separated by so small an interval, that only a 
single comb could be erected between them. In this 
he found no difficulty in establishing a swarm; the bees 
pursued their labours with the same assiduity and re- 
gularity as in other hives, and, every ceil being ex- 
posed to view, none of their proceedings could be con- 
cealed. Huber has not given any directions as to the 
dimensions or the mode of constructing this hive, but 
they have been supplied by Peburier, though he does 
not name the inventor. " It consists of a frame 
from 1^ foot to 2 feet in height, and from 1 foot to 
1^ foot in breadth. The uprights and cross-bar at 
the top, are about 2 inches thick, and 1^ inch broad. 
This breadth being sufficient to admit of the bees 
constructing a comb, forms almost the whole interior 
of the hive. To this frame is applied on each side 
another frame of the same dimensions, except that 
it need not be above ^ inch in thickness. In each 
of these outer frames is placed a pane or panes of 
glass, in such a manner, that the distance between, 
constituting the width of the hive from back to 
front, shall be 20 lines, that is 12 for the thickness 
of the comb, and 4 on each side for the passage of 
the bees. These dimensions must be correctly ob- 
served ; at least, the width had better be diminished 
than augmented, otherwise the bees will work against 
the glass. The frames are attached to one another 
by hinges on the one side, and hooks on the other. 



tHE HONEY-BEE. 181 

or by iron wire. An entrance is made by cutting, in 
the middle of the lower quarter of the frame, a notch 
sloping upwards from the outside. There must be 
an entrance both before and behind, the doors of 
which are opened and shut at pleasure. This hive 
must be covered with a wooden surtout resting on 
the floor-board. To save the trouble of lifting it off 
every time we observe the bees, an opening is made 
in each side with a shutter fitted to it, of the same 
size with the glass ; and as it is necessary that the 
bees should be kept from getting between the hive 
and the surtout, there must be a covered passage 
leading to the outside. This hive presents great 
facilities for making experiments, and for observing 
the proceedings of the bees, which being prevented 
from constructing more than one comb, cannot con- 
ceal any part of their operations as in other hives. 
They soon become accustomed to the removal of the 
surtout, and are not at all disturbed by our observ- 
ing them. The Queen may be followed in all her 
movements, and even in her laying. It is easy to 
lay hold of her at any time, either in the hive or in 
the passage. The bees may be fed and retained 
prisoners ; they may be forced to make wax from 
honey, honey from sugar, &c. In short, all the ex- 
periments that have ever been made, may be verified 
by means of this hive, the result found, and new 
experiments tried. In spite of its peculiar advan- 
tages, however, it has inconveniences which annoy 
the Naturalist. It is very difficult to introduce a 
swarm into it^ how much soever the operator may 



182 HIVES. 

have been accustomed to manage bees. The insects 
cannot cluster together in it, as in other hives, and 
concentrate the heat during winter, and, therefore, 
are hable to perish ; and the smallest variation of 
the atmosphere is injurious to the brood. If, in order 
to preserve it, it is put into a warm place, it must be 
constantly fed." 

This is the kind of hive we have made use of in 
our experiments ; and as the figure, given by Febu- 
rier, (Plate XII., fig. 3,) is but little adapted to con- 
vey a correct idea of it, we shall present our readers 
with a sketch of our own hive, exhibiting what we 
consider some improvements on the original. Fig. 
2, Plate XII., is the frame which contains the comb, 
two feet long and eighteen inches high, inside mea- 
sure. The uprights A and b, and the top piece c, 
are two inches broad, and one inch thick ; f, f, are 
cross sticks, about three-eighths of an inch square, for 
supporting the comb ; c is a piece of comb fixed in 
the frame for a guide ; g, cf, are two iron staples, by 
which the frame is secured to the floor-board. Fig. 
4, represents one of the outer frames containing two 
panes of glass, a and b, each eighteen inches high 
and twelve broad, fixed in slender frames which are 
hinged to the outer-frame, and shut flush with it, 
resting against a vertical bar, c, which is half an inch 
square. When the two outer frames are applied 
and fastened by means of hooks and eyes, one on 
each side, to the inner frame containing the comb, 
the distance between the glasses is exactly twenty 
lines, or If of an inch. The panes being made to 



THE HONEY-BEE. 183 

open is indispensable for experimental operations, 
such as seizing the Queen, cutting out brood-comb, 
&c. ; D, D, are shutters 1^ inch in thickness, which 
render unnecessary the surtout described by Febu- 
rier, and are much more convenient. Fig. 5, is the 
floor-board, which has the entrances — for there are 
two, one on each side — in the thickness, sloping up- 
wards to the centre of the floor ; a, a, are two iron 
rods which keep the hive firm on its board, by pass- 
ing through the two staples in the centre frame. 
Fig. 6, is the hive mounted on its floor-board, with 
its shutters closed ; b, is the roof, sloping on each 
side, and fastened by a hook and eye at each corner. 
The whole turns on a pivot, c, which is the upper 
end of a post driven into the ground. Fig. 7, is the 
hive seen in profile. When the observer is satisfied 
with inspecting one side of the comb, he may wheel 
the hive round and examine the other, without 
changing his station, taking care, before turning it, 
to open the door nearest to him, and shut the 
other immediately after. By this mode of proceed- 
ing he may contemplate his favourites at his leisure, 
without disturbing them, and without the slightest 
danger of being annoyed by them ; for it is true that 
they become so much accustomed to the opening of 
the shutters that the admission of the light ceases to 
disturb them. Feburier speaks of the difiiculty of in- 
troducing the bees into this hive — the difficulty is very 
trifling. Raise the hive three inches from its board, 
supporting it below by a lath of wood, placed on edge, 
two feet long and three inches deep ; there will thus 



184 MANAGEMENT IN SPRING. 

be an opening along the whole front three inches high. 
Rest the edge of a hoard, two or three feet square, 
on the floor of the hive ; on this hoard place the 
common hive, into which the hees have been re- 
ceived on swarming ; give a smart stroke on the 
top, and the bees will fall down ; remove the com- 
mon hive, and they will hurry as if for shelter into 
the other, and in a few minutes the whole will be 
ensconced in their new habitation. Should they lin- 
ger longer than is convenient, a puiF or two of smoke 
will cause them to ascend with great speed. A guide- 
comb must be fixed in this hive, before peopling it. 
Since this work was ready for the press, the writer 
has seen a Treatise on Bees, by Mr. Nutt, a gentle- 
man of Lincolnshire, in which he describes and re- 
commends a hive of his own invention. It consists 
of three boxes, placed collaterally, each twelve inches 
square and nine inches deep. The central one, which 
is, somewhat affectedly called " the Pavilion of Na- 
ture," constitutes the grand breeding apartment ; 
while the other two, to which there is access from 
the pavilion by horizontal openings made in the ends 
for that purpose, form the chief honey magazines. In 
the management of this hive, the pavilion is left un- 
touched, and the wings, or collateral boxes only appro- 
priated. When the population of the central box, at 
the beginning of summer, has increased to such a de- 
gree as to raise the internal temperature to 100 de- 
grees of Fahrenheit, the slides inserted between the 
centre and end boxes are drawn up, and access to the 
latter given to the bees ; by which means the temper- 



THE HONEY-BEE. 185 

ature is lowered, room is given to the fast-augmenting 
population, and the necessity of swarming avoided. 
And that the Queen may he deterred from depositing 
her eggs in these end boxes, and thus deteriorating 
the quality of the honey, a degree of coolness, incom- 
patible, according to this writer's theory, Avith the 
rearing of brood, is produced by ventilation ; and 
this is effected by two openings, one at the top and 
the other at the bottom of the boxes, covered with 
pieces of perforated tin, and fitted with moveable 
shutters. For the convenience of using a ther- 
mometer, a perforated tin tube, fixed at the top, 
reaches down into the centre of each box. Into 
this tube the instrument is inserted from time to 
time, in order to ascertain the temperature. The 
quantity of honey said to be taken from one set of 
these boxes in one season (1826) is enormous — not 
less, the author avers, than 296 J lbs., while 109 lbs. 
were left to the bees. Nay, it appears from a regis- 
ter given in the work, that in the season above men- 
tioned, one of the boxes, weighing 52 lbs., was filled 
in four days ! If there is no mistake here, we can 
only conclude that the author's residence must in- 
deed be in a land flowing with honey. 

On the management of Bees in Spring. — About 
the first or second week of February, unless when 
the season is stormy, the bees will be observed ven- 
turing cautiously to the mouth of the hive ; and if 
the sun shines out about mid-day, the little eager 
foragers will be seen spreading their wings joyfully. 



186 MANAGEMENT IN SPRING. 

* 

launching forth into the air, though with a low timid 
flight, and roaming from bush to bush in search of 
some plant that may yield a modicum of farina — for 
the Queen has already begun to lay the eggs of 
worl^ers ; and although there is always a certain 
quantity of this kind of food in the hive, (the pro- 
duct of the preceding year's gathering) for the coming 
brood, the provident insects are aware that an addi- 
tional supply will be required, and rouse themselves 
accordingly from the winter's inactivity. The col- 
lection of farina, however, is, at this early period, 
very scanty. The few bees that are seen, during the 
month of February, entering their domiciles with 
their yellow loads, derive them almost solely from 
the snow-drop, the crocus, and the furze-blossom. 
Some other early flowering plants are sometimes to 
be met with — such as laurustinus, hellebore, and 
spring flowering heath, but these are not common, 
and in fact are found only or chiefly in spots where 
they have been planted for the special benefit of the 
apiary. At this earl}?^ period, therefore, the owner 
cannot help them, however anxious to do so, as far 
as farina is concerned. In other respects, however, 
equally important, he has it in his power to minister 
essentially to their welfare, namely, by supplying 
them plentifully with honey or syrup of sugar. In 
the article of honey, none of the insect families of a 
judicious bee-master will be deficient ; he has, it is 
to be presumed, kept none as stock-hives which did 
not possess stores sufficient, and more than sufficient. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 187 

to carry his bees through not only the winter months, 
but those of spring also. But even to the well-pro- 
visioned, a little additional supply will be welcome, 
and prove advantageous, infusing fresh spirits into 
the hard-working labourers, encouraging the laying 
of the Queen, and consequently contributing greatly 
to the rapid increase of the population, and to the pro- 
duction of early swarms. We need not fear being 
over-liberal ; the bees are excellent economists and 
will carefully husband what we entrust to them. 

The first care of the cultivator, after the appear- 
ance of his bees in spring, is to inspect his hives. 
Lifting them gently from the stool, he will sweep 
away all the dead bees, eggs of moths, scrapings of 
wax, mouldiness, or other offensive matters that have 
accumulated during the winter, and clean and dry 
the floor-board effectually. The lower part of the 
combs, where the population is scanty, is sometimes 
found to be mouldy ; it will save the workers much 
trouble, and contribute to their health, to cut those 
parts away. Let the cover, if of straw, be next taken 
off; mice are often found lodging between it and the 
hive, and, secure from observation, work their way 
down into the interior. The cover should be re- 
newed, and carefully fastened close to the hive by 
one or two wooden hoops. As the consumption of 
food in spring is very great, in consequence of the 
prodigious quantity of brood reared — the queen lay- 
ing at the rate of 100 to 200 eggs daily — the culti- 
vator must see that there is an abundant supply, and 
commence feeding, if there appears any thing like a 



188 MANAGEMENT IN SPRING. 

deficiency.* No branch of bee-management requires 
more attention than the feeding operation, and very 
many hives, we fear, are irretrievably injured by the in- 
judicious manner in which supplies of food are admin- 
istered. Giving them in a cold state, or in a state of 
fermentation, or at improper periods,, costs every year 
the lives of thousands of bees. No food should be 
given in spring till the bees shew by their coming 
abroad, that it may be offered them with perfect safety. 
A simple mode of feeding is by means of a small 
drawer, having a float pierced with holes, inserted in 
the thickness of the floor-board, at the back of the 
hive. Liquid honey, or syrup of sugar, a little warm, 
may be poured into this drawer in the evening, after 
the bees have retired in-doors from the labours of 
the day. It is taken up immediately, and the smell 
is completely gone before the morning. 

It is of very material importance in feeding, to 
guard against the admission of stranger bees to the 
feeding vessel. This may be effected by shutting up 
the hive completely after the feeding-drawer, above 
described, has been inserted, allowing only the admis- 
sion of air. One circumstance, however, may render 
this precaution abortive ; some of the liquid may be, 
and very often is, accidentally spilt in pushing the 
trough inwards, the consequence of which is, that the 
smell of the syrup, when the hive is opened, will attract 

* The food given to bees in autumn may be either honey 
or sugar ; but in spring it should always be honey, as sugar 
does not form so good an ingredient of the jelly which nour- 
ishes the young brood. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 189 

Strangers, and eventually lead to plunder. It is a good 
method, therefore, to administer the food, when it is 
given at the external entrance,in a covered vessel,hav- 
ing its opening at one side placed close to that of the 
hive, so that the bees proceed directly to the trough, 
without having any communication with the open air, 
and, consequently, without affording an opportunity of 
admittance to stran^^ers. A trouo;h of this kind is de- 
scribed in the Edinburgh Encyclopaedia, and, with some 
little improvement, by Howatson. We have used it, 
and found it to answer pretty well, and shall, there- 
fore, for the benefit of others, describe it here. (See 
PI. XIII. fig. 3.) '^ It consists of an oblong box, in one 
end of which is a reservoir containing honey that is 
allowed to flow from the bottom, under a thin float, 
buoyed up with cork, and perforated with small holes, 
through which the bees, standing on the float, supply 
themselves with the honey. There is a hole in the 
side of the box, which is to be applied to the entrance 
of the hive for admitting the bees above the float, and 
another on the opposite side which is opened at 
I)leasure, to allow them to escape, should the box be 
too much crowded. The lid of the box is a glass pane. 
On pouring the honey into the reservoir, the float 
rises, whence there should not be such a quantity as 
to raise it close to the lid or pane above. The box is 
about 10 inches long, 4 broad, and 2-| deep, and the 
reservoir is an inch wide. When used, the hole in 
the side is to be placed close to the entrance of the 
hive, which must be gently rapped on, if the bees do 
not immediately find the way down. It is entertain- 



100 MANAGEMENT IN SPRING. 

ing to observe bees accustomed to be fed in this man- 
ner watching the approach of the feeder. When the 
ordinary time draws near, they rush down to the box 
the moment it is put upon the board, and, after speed- 
ily filling themselves, they return to the hive, from 
which they very soon return for a second supply. By 
throwing a little fine flour on those leaving the box, it 
will be seen that they can fill themselves in three 
minutes, and are absent not above five. One conve- 
nience that attends feeding with such a box, is the 
exclusion of stranger bees, as the sole communication 
with the interior is from the entrance of the hive." 
This is a very good contrivance, generally speaking, 
but there should be no hole for allowing the bees to 
escape from the trough or box when over-crowded, 
as, if left open for a minute through neglect, it would 
give occasion for the very evil intended to be guarded 
against, namely, the admission of strangers ; for what 
affords the means of exit to the former will admit the 
entrance of the latter. There is no need of cork to 
buoy up the float, which, if made, as it should be, of 
thin light fir, will be sufficiently buoyant of itself. 
It may be remarked, also, that there is no danger of 
filling the box so full as to crush the bees against the 
glass cover ; the describer must have forgot that the 
entrance-hole intervenes, above which the liquid can- 
not rise. The usual mode of supplying the bees by 
this trough is to give the food in the afternoon or 
evening, when all are within doors, and to remove it 
early next morning. This mode of feeding, however, 
ought, as already stated, to be had recourse to only in 



THE HONEV-BEE. 191 

mild weather. If the nights be cold, there will be 
found in the trough next day, many dead bees which 
had been tempted to linger there too long. 

As the season advances, the spring flowers appear 
in greater abundance, the gooseberry and currant 
bushes furnish both honey and farina, the seeding 
turnips and early sown mustard present a very consi- 
derable supply ; the furze, also, is in full bloom, and 
the bees become less dependant on artificial feeding. 
But, unless the weather be remarkably mild, and the 
stocks of more than ordinary richness, the adventitious 
supplies ought not to be withdrawn till the beginning 
of May. During March and April, the activity and 
bustle of the hive are greatly augmented, and the in- 
dustrious foragers may be seen in a genial morning 
hurrying with their loads into the hive in crowds, and 
jostling and driving one another about with most un- 
ceremonious haste. In a strong hive, from 50 to 70 
bees, as already stated, may be observed entering in a 
minute ; and, when about to purchase a hive, we 
cannot have recourse to a more decisive testimony of 
its strength than the numbers that enter loaded with 
farina in a given period of time. It is, in fact, during 
this season, about the beginning or middle of April, 
that such purchases can be made with less risk than 
during any other part of the year. The winter is 
past, and the more trying season of early spring, 
especially the latter half of February and the whole 
of March, during which periods more bees die than 
at any other. Their consumption of honey is thou 
so great, from the circumstance of the Queen having 



192 MANAGEMENT IN SPRING. 

begun her laying, and the rapidly increasing quantity 
of brood, that none but well provisioned hives can 
support the exipenditure. In April, however, the 
industrious insect begins to get something out of doors; 
besides the o-ooseberries and currants, the seeding; 
turnips and furze, the willows are putting forth their 
catkins, and the buds of the plane and horse-chestnut 
are swelling, all of which contribute to relieve the 
winter magazines and render it quite safe for a buyer 
to set about forming his apiary. Let him, therefore, 
choose a fine morning, when the bees are busily en- 
gaged in carrying in farina, and observe attentively, 
and in their turn, all the hives from which he is to 
select his purchase, counting the number of each that 
enter within a minute's space. He will fix, of course, 
on those that exhibit the greatest number. 

The cultivator will sometimes at this season dis- 
cover, to his mortification, that one or more of his 
hives has been totally deserted by the inhabitants. If 
there is no want of honey in the combs, and no appear- 
ance of mice or other vermin having obtained access 
to it, the probable cause of this desertion is the death 
of the queen during the winter, from age or from 
accident. In such circumstances, the whole popu- 
lation will gradually leave their habitation ; and while 
many wander about in the cold, and ultimately perish, 
others may be seen dispersing themselves among the 
other hives in the apiary. The owner should in this 
case shut up the hive, carry it into a dry place, and 
reserve it for a late swarm, to which it will be a 
valuable acquisition. It is worthy of remark how 



THE HONEY-BEE. 193 

seldom the prosperity of the apiary is affected by the 
death' of a queen ; yet, supposing the duration of her 
hfe to extend to four years, — and we have no certainty 
of its being: of longer continuance, — in every collection 
of four stock hives, there must be, on an average, one 
death each year. And yet how seldom are we aware 
of this event, or suffer any diminution of our stocks 
in consequence ! We can account for this only by 
concluding that the death of the queen from age, 
takes place much less frequently in winter than in 
summer, at which season eggs may have been already 
laid in royal cells ; or, at all events, there being then 
common eggs and brood of all ages in the hive, the 
bees have it in their power to rear a successor from 
the larva of a worker. And the males beinof at the 
same time in great numbers, impregnation of the 
young queen soon takes place, eggs are laid forty-six 
hours afterwards, and the business of the community 
goes on without further interruption- 

Bees are confessedly a very imtable race, and in 
our frequent inspection of the hives at this season, as 
well as in our operations with them throughout the 
year, we are sometimes made to feel their fury, and 
to smart under the venom of their stings. Almost 
all bee-masters are of opinion that the anger of the 
bees is greatly excited and aggravated by the odour 
of their own poison.* Feburier thinks that this 
venom is more or less active according to the temper- 

* The venom of bees is extremely active ; Reaumur con- 
jectures that the weight of a grain would kill a pigeon in a few 
seconds. 

N 



194 MANAGEMENT IN SPRING. 

ature of the atmosphere, and the temperament of the 
body which is stung ; and he tells us farther, that 
the bees are more peaceably disposed in temperate 
climatesj than in those where the heat is extreme.* 
For this he gives the authority of the Abbe della 
Rocca, who asserts that these insects are not so irrit- 
able in the comparatively moderate climate of France, 
as they are in the Grecian Islands where he had re- 
sided ; and in proof of this he gives one or two an- 
ecdotes which are worthy of being recorded. A 
small privateer with 40 or 50 men, having on board 
some hives made of earthen-ware full of bees, was 
pursued by a Turkish galley manned by 500 seamen 
and soldiers. As soon as the latter came alongside, 
the crew of the privateer mounted the rigging with 
their hives, and hurled them down upon the deck of 
the galley. The Turks, astonished at this novel 
mode of warfare, and unable to defend themselves 
from the stings of the enraged bees, became so terri- 
fied, that they thought of nothing but how to escape 
their fury ; while the crew of the small vessel, de- 
fended by masks and gloves, flew upon their enemies 
sword in hand, and captured the vessel almost with- 
out resistance. The Abbe's next anecdote is nearly 
as extraordinary. When Amurath, the Turkish 
emperor, during the siege of Alba Grseca, had bat- 
tered down part of the wall, and was about to take 
the town by assault, he found the breach defended 

* This is an error, if we may believe the accounts which 
travellers within the tropics have given of the bees in those 
regions. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 195 

by beeSj many hives of which the inhabitants had 
stationed on the ruins. The Janissaries, although the 
bravest soldiers in the Ottoman empire, durst not en- 
counter this formidable line of defence, and refused 
to advance. " Our bees," says M, Feburier, in re- 
marking on these anecdotes, '^''are not so terrible. 
Still, if we place ourselves within a few feet of a hive 
to examine them, and do not carefully avoid all hasty 
movements, we shall very soon perceive one or two 
bees wheeling rapidly round us, with a shrill and pierc- 
ing sound, very different from their ordinary humming. 
In this case it will be prudent to take ourselves ofF^ 
or plunge the head into a bush, because the number 
of the assailants will increase rapidly, and the attack 
commence without a moment's delay. If, notwith- 
standing the shelter of the bush, they continue their 
enraged buzzing around us, it will be most prudent 
to get quietly and quickly out of the way." 

The following anecdote from Lesser, quoted by 
Kirkby and Spence, will shew that even in the temper- 
ate climate of Europe, tlie irritability of this insect may 
be made a formidable means of defence. '^ During the 
confusion occasioned by a time of war in 1525, a mob 
of peasants assembling in Hohnstein in Thuringia, 
attempted to pillage the house of the minister of 
Elende, who having in vain employed all his eloquence 
to dissuade them from their design, ordered his do- 
mestics to fetch his bee-hives, and throw them in the 
middle of this furious mob. The effect was what 
might be expected ; they were immediately put to 
flight, and happy to escape unstung." 



196 MANAGEMENT IN SPRING. 

Almost every writer on the subject of bees has 
given a cure for their sting, and a recipe for a bee- 
dress. As remedies against the venom, olive-oil, 
vitriol, laudanum, vinegar, and even simple water, 
have each their advocates ; and old Butler prescribes 
the rubbing the wound with simple saliva. We have 
found no remedy so efficacious as the juice of a plant 
we have seldom to go far in search of, the common 
dock, bruised, and rubbed instantly on the wound, 
after the sting has been withdrawn. The rubbing 
should be continued for ten or fifteen minutes ; it will 
allay the pain, and very generally prevents the part 
from swelling. With regard to defensive coverings, 
Ave have seen none described which were not greatly 
wanting in simplicity and facility of management. 
Many of them, also, are very uncomfortable to the 
wearers, particularly the cloth hoods which reach 
down over the shoulders, and by confining and con- 
centrating the heat of the body and breath about the 
head and face, give more annoyance than a few stings 
would do. We have tried most of these dresses, and 
have laid them aside ; and now we use only a thin 
gauze or crape veil, sewed quite round the edge of 
the hat-rim, the projection of which keeps the veil 
at due distance from the face. To prevent the bees 
from getting within it, the sides of the veil are sewed 
together behind, and the under part of it stuffed 
within the neck of the vest. This, with a pair of stout 
leather or woollen gloves, forms our whole defensive 
armour ; it is put off and on in a few seconds, and 
proves perfectly sufficient for the purpose intended. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 197 

On the Management of Bees in the Swarming 
Season. — The approach of this interesting season is 
indicated to the Bee-master by the appearance of the 
drones or males, which shew themselves about the 
end of May or the beginning of June, sooner or later, 
according to the general nature of the climate, and 
the particular state of the colony to which they be- 
long. In the meantime, the population has increased 
rapidly, and the heat of the hive is greatly augmented. 
Excited by these causes, the queen hurries over the 
combs fronrone quarter of the hive to another, commu- 
nicates her agitation to her subjects, and, accompanied 
by a multitude of them, rushes out of the hive. (See 
p. 13S.) The bee-owner is forewarned of this re- 
volution by several not insignificant signs. In many 
cases, for several preceding days, the bees have been 
hanging in clusters from the mouth of the hive, as if 
unable to find room vnthin, and desirous of seeking a 
new domicile ; on the morning of the day on which 
the emigration takes place, they may be observed 
listless and idle at the entrance, frequently entering 
within the door, and returning in small parties of 
two, three, or four, seemingly insensible to the fra- 
grance exhaled from the rich flower-vegetation, and 
testifying none of their usual activity in profiting by 
it; while, as the day advances, the males, on the 
otiier hand, are hurrying to and fro with a prodigious 
bustle and noise, as if conscious of some revolution 
impending in which they would have to bear a pro- 
minent part j and, lastly, the moisture or sweating, 
as it is called, which, in the early part of the day. 



198 MANAGEMENT IN SWARMING. 

had covered the ahghting-board like a heavy dew, is 
rapidly dried up by the great increase of heat. 

A swarm on the wing is a most agreeable spectacle 
to the Bee-master. It is true his harvest of honey 
might be more plentiful, were the population to re- 
main undivided, and be accommodated with additional 
room, either by means of storifying or collateral 
hiving ; still, to the lover of nature^ the develop- 
ment of the instincts and habits of this interesting 
insect, which takes place in the process of swarming, 
is a source of genuine pleasure. At^ the same 
time, it must be owned, this pleasure is not always 
unmingled with anxiety, for his winged favourites 
sometimes mount high in the air and fly off, perhaps 
to a habitation previously chosen, and to which they 
are guided by their scouts. To prevent this evil, the 
owner and his assistant must hasten to throw up 
amongst them handfuls of small gravel or earth, 
which has generally the effect of bringing them down. 
If it fail, and they seem determined to travel, the 
owner must prepare himself to follow ; for the in- 
sects, when thus disposed to wander, condense their 
straggling circles, and dart off with great rapidity, 
always in a straight line, and generally against the 
wind. To put a stop to their flight, the common 
practice is to make all sorts of noises, ringing of bells, 
beating of pans and other sonorous vessels.* Lojig 

* Butler thinks that these noises were originally intended 
to proclaim to the neighbourhood that a swarm had risen, and 
that they might know whence it came, and to whom it be- 
longed. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 199 

experience has satisfied us that the use of these noisy 
implements is by no means indispensable on such 
occasions. Ten swarms out of twelve, if let alone 
altogether, and suffered peaceably to take their own 
way, will alight on the first shrub, bush, or low-grow- 
ing tree, that stands in nearly a direct line from the 
mouth of the hive, whatever may be their intentions 
as to any ulterior destination ; and to defeat such in- 
tentions, if any such are threatened, let the swarm, 
as soon as it has settled on an accessible spot, be 
housed immediately, and shaded carefully from the 
sun. In half an hour afterwards, let it be removed 
to its permanent station in the apiary. If the swarm 
settle on the branch of a high tree, let a ladder be 
got and fastened to the trunk by ropes, and let the 
operator ascend it, carrying up with him a small bag, 
distended within by a slender hoop in which he will 
inclose the swarm. The operation will be facilitated, 
if the branch can be cut and brou<;ht down alons; with 
it. Sometimes the swarm, after alighting, returns in 
a few minutes to the hive. This happens when the 
queen has left, as she sometimes does, the settled 
group, and makes her way back to her original abode ; 
the swai-m will, in these circumstances, gradually 
foUov/ her and return also, but will come off again 
next day, or perhaps the same day. Sometimes the 
bees return to the hive without alighting at all ; and 
sometimes, unfortunately, the queen in such a case 
commits a mistake and enters a wrong one, while her 
followers crowd after her, and alight in myriads about 
the mouth and round the pedestal, without, however. 



200 MANAGEMENT IN SWARMING. 

entering with their sovereign, as if aware of the clanger 
of such intrusion. This is rather a perplexing state 
of things, and the best remedy we can suggest, is in- 
stantly to carry off the hive into which the queen has 
strayed, and to substitute in its place 'the one from 
vi^hich she had issued. The bees will readily enter ; 
after which the two hives may be restored to their 
former places. If the strayed queen does not reappear 
in a very few minutes, we may conclude she has fallen 
a victim to her error ; and the owner may console 
himself with the knowledge that the swarm will come 
off again in a very few days, with another queen. 

Two swarms sometimes leave their hives at the same 
time, and in such cases almost always go together. If 
they are second swarms, it will be better to let them 
remain so ; they will, when thus united, form a strong 
stock, and will collect much more honey than they 
could have done separately. If they are first swarms, 
and the season is not far advanced, it will be expe- 
dient to separate them ; and for this purpose, let the 
whole mass be first received into an empty hive, and 
then, spreading a sheet on the floor of an empty apart- 
ment from which the light is partially excluded, let 
the hive be placed on it ; a smart stroke on the top 
will send them down in a mass upon the sheet, and 
the bees, in a minute or two, will be observed col- 
lected into two groups, in the centre of each of which 
will be found a queen. Place an empty hive gently 
over each group, raising one side, that the bees may 
have easy access ; and when housed, remove them to 
their proper stations, which should be some consider- 



THE HONEY-BEE. 201 

able distance apart. The reason for recommending 
a partially darkened room is, that should the opera- 
tion be performed in the open air, as is sometimes 
done, and in sunshine, the swarms will almost certainly 
rise again, and very probably may be lost. 

Second Swarms. — In ten or twelve days after the 
departure of the old Queen with her followers, the 
hive is in a state to send forth another band of emi- 
grants. The young Queen, thwarted by the workers in 
her attempt to destroy her rivals yet in their cradles,'- 
traverses the combs in every direction in a state of 
great agitation, causing by her impetuous courses 
disorder and confusion amongst the inhabitants, and 
thereby raising the temperature of the hive to such 
a height, that the bees, unable to support the aug- 
mented heat, hurry along with their irritated Queen 
towards the outlet of the hive, and depart. As there 
are often from six to ten queens, and sometimes even 
more, in the hive, two or three will often be found 
in a second swarm, which has frequently the effect 
of dividing it, each portion alighting on a separate 
bush. The operation of uniting them is simple and 
easy. Cut the branch which carries the smallest 
portion, and place it in contact with the other; they 
vnll soon unite. Or receive first the one group into 
an empty hive, and placing it immediately under the 
other, shake this last down upon them, and the junc- 
tion is effected. The bees will quickly rid them- 
selves of the supernumerary queen. 

Third Swarms. — It is in consequence of this mul- 
* See page Q5. 



202 MANAGEMENT IN SWARMING. 

tiplicity of queens> that sometimes a third, and even 
a fourth, emigration takes place from the mother-hive, 
— the former on the third day after the second, and 
the latter on the day following. To establish these as 
separate and independent colonies would be ultimately 
a loss to the owner, — the swarm or cast itself would 
do little good, and the parent hive would be impover- 
ished to such a degree as to render it unfit for a 
winter stock. The third and fourth swarms, there- 
fore, ought to be restored to their original habitation, 
taking care previously to search for and seize the 
Queen or Queens, which in these small swarms is not a 
difficult operation. If the operator is successful in his 
search, the bees will return of themselves. Even a 
second swarm is seldom much worth, unless the prime 
one has been particularly weak, and would be much 
more productive to the owner, by its continuance in 
the parent hive. Our fondness for having our apiaries 
stocked with a great number of hives is apt to make 
us overlook the disadvantage of having — as we are 
sure to have by indulging ourselves in this desire — 
puny stock-hives which give much trouble, and cost 
a great deal more than they are worth ; for in this 
country, second swarms that come off later than June, 
seldom do any good, unless they are situated in the 
immediate neighbourhood of heath, or are transported 
thither in August or September. He is a wise bee- 
master, then, who takes but one swarm from each 
stock ; he may, generally speaking, depend on having 
stronger swarms, and a greater quantity of honey than 
he would have procured from double the number of 



THE HONEY-BEE. 203 

seconds. There is but one way of preventing second 
swarms, and that is, by giving them more room, and 
destroying all the remaining royal cells, as soon as it 
is ascertained that a yomig Queen has been hatched, 
to preside over the community. A first swarm de- 
parts only on a fine day, when the sky is clear, and 
the sun shines ; a second, or cast, is not so scrupu- 
lous. Should the weather become wet immediately 
after the emigrants have been housed, they must be 
fed. 

Virgin Swarms. — When the swarming season has 
been early and favourable, a strong first swarm sends 
forth sometimes a young colony headed by the old 
Queen. For the first few days after she had taken 
possession of her new abode, she has laid the eggs of 
workers in great numbers. Portions of comb con- 
tain inij large cells are at the same time constructed, 
in which she lays the eggs of males. The workers 
are thereby encouraged to build royal cells ; and, if 
the weather be favourable, at the end of a month 
from the time of her leaving her original abode, the 
old Queen leads off a new band of emigrants. The 
product of this swarm, if suffered to exist separately, 
is called virgin honey. What has been said of the 
value of second, third, and fourth swarms, is equally 
applicable to swarms of this description. Unless in 
very particular circumstances, they are not only not 
advantageous, but positively injurious to the general 
prosperity of the apiary, and should therefore be 
prevented. 

A timid and inexperienced cultivator of bees may 



204 MANAGEMENT IN SWARMING. 

shrink at the description of some of the dangerous op- 
erations ventured on with such irritable subjects, and 
will be disposed on every occasion of this kind to 
ensconce himself in impenetrable defensive armour. 
In forming artificial swarms, in depriving the bees 
of their hard-earned stores, or interfering in any wav 
with the brood, he will do well to protect himself by 
such means. But in regard to natural swarms, he 
need be under no apprehension, and this panoply is 
then quite unnecessary. Every person accustomed 
to work amongst bees, knows how safely he may 
go into the midst of a newly departed swarm, not 
one bee of vdiich will molest him, unless he acci- 
dentally crush or injure it during his operations. 
They are so intent on the great object of their emi- 
gration, the acquisition of a new abode, and so sensi- 
tively anxious about the safety of their mother and 
Queen, that what on ordinary occasions would draw 
forth many a vengeful weapon, now passes utterly 
unheeded by them ; and the cultivator may, in the 
event of their clustering in an inconvenient spot 
for being hived, lift them in handfuls like so much 
grain, without in the least suffering for his boldness. 
The following instances, in proof of this, are very 
interesting, and worthy of being repeatedly brought 
forward, not only as illustrating a remarkable featured 
in the history of the Bee, but as being well calculated 
to inspire confidence in those who are required to 
work amongst these sensitive creatures at the swarm- 
ing season. The first instance is from M. Lombard : 
— " A young girl of my acquaintance was greatly 



THE HONEY-BEE. 205 

afraid of bees, but was completely cured of her fear 
by the following incident. A swarm having left a 
hivcj I observed the Queen alight by herself, at a 
little distance from the apiary. I immediately called 
my little friend, that I might show her this import- 
ant personage ; she was anxious to have a nearer 
view of her majesty, and therefore, having first caused 
her to draw on her gloves, I gave the Queen into her 
hand. Scarcely had I done so, when we were sur- 
rounded by the whole bees of the swarm. In this 
emergency I encouraged the trembling girl to be 
steady, and to fear nothing, remaining myself close 
by her, and covering her head and shoulders with a 
thin handkerchief. I then made her stretch out the 
hand that held the Queen, and the bees instantly 
alighted on it, and hung from her fingers as from the 
branch of a tree. The little girl, experiencing no 
injury, was delighted above measure at the novel 
sight, and so entirely freed from all fear, that she bade 
me uncover her face. The spectators were charmed 
at the interesting spectacle. I at length brought a 
hive, and shaking the swarm from the child's hand, 
it was lodged in safety without inflicting a single 
sting." 

This instance, though amusing, must yield in in- 
terest to the following from Thoilev. an old Enghsh 
bee-master. It has been often told, but, for the 
reasons already stated, deserves to be repeated : — 
"In the year 1717, one of my swarms settled among 
the close-twisted branches of a codling tree, and not 
to be got into a hive without help, my maid-servant. 



206 MANAGEMENT IN SWARMING. 

being in tlie garden, offered her assistance to hold 
the hive while I dislodged the bees. Having never 
been acquainted with bees, she put a linen cloth over 
her head and shoulders to secure her from their 
stings. A few of the bees fell into the hive, and 
some upon the ground, but the main body upon the 
cloth which covered her garments. I took the hive 
out of her hands, when she cried out that the bees 
were got under the covering, and were crowding up 
towards her breast and face, which put her into a 
trembling posture. When I perceived the veil was 
of no farther service, she gave me leave to remove 
it; this done, a most affecting spectacle presented 
itself to the view of all the company, filling me with 
the deepest distress and concern, as I thought myself 
the unhappy instrument of drawing her into so im- 
minent hazard of her life. Had she enraged them, 
all resistance would have been vain, and nothing less 
than her life would have atoned for the offence. I 
spared not to use all the arguments I could think of, 
and used the most affectionate entreaties, begging 
her with all the earnestness in my power to stand 
her ground, and keep her present posture ; in order 
to which I gave her encouragement to hope for a full 
discharge from her disagreeable companions, I be- 
gan to search among them for the Queen, they hav- 
ing now got in a great body upon her breast, about 
her neck, and up to her chin. I immediately seized 
her, taking her from the crowd, with some of the 
commons in company with her, and put them toge- 
ther into the hive. Here I watched her for some 



THE HONEY-BEE. 2UT 

time, and as I did not observe that she came out, I 
conceived an expectation of seeing the whole body 
quickly abandon their settlement ; but instead of 
that, I soon observed them gathering closer together, 
without the least signal for departing. Upon this, I 
immediately reflected that either there must be an- 
other sovereign, or that the same was returned, I 
directly commenced a second search, and in a short 
time, with a most agreeable surprise, found a second, 
or the same. She strove, by entering farther into 
the crowd, to escape me; but I re-conducted her, 
with a great number of the populace, into the hive. 
And now the melancholv scene bejxan to change to 
one infinitely more agreeable and pleasant. The 
bees, missing their Queen, began to dislodge and re- 
pair to the hive, crowding into it in multitudes, and 
in the greatest hurry imaginable ; and in the space 
of two or three minutes, the maid had not a single 
bee about her, neither had she so much as one sting 
— a small number of which would have quickly stop- 
ped her breath." 

The following table of the average number, mea- 
sure, and weight of Bees, is taken from Key's Trea- 
tise — 



lbs. oz. dr. 



23,000 Bees, constituting a good swarm, 
will weigh . 
100 Drones weigh 
290 Workers 
4,640 Ditto, . 
1,830 Ditto — a pint in nic 



5 

1 

1 

1 
asure, . G .5 



3,660 Ditto— a quart, . . . 12 10 



208 ARTIFICIAL SWARMS. 

This table is probably not far from the truth ; but 
in experiments to ascertain the fact with unquestion- 
able correctness, it is very necessary to take into the 
account the state of the bees at the time when the cal- 
culation is made. If they are alive, they weigh less 
than when dead ; and if weighed immediately after 
they have emigrated from the mother-hive, allowance, 
to the amount perhaps of a fifth, must be made for the 
honey and farina with which they are then loaded. 

On Artificial Swarms. — Artificial swarming is not 
generally practised in this country, owing probably 
to the want of sufficient practical skill, in most of 
those who apply themselves to Bee-husbandry. In 
many cases, however, it might be had recourse to with 
great advantage, and in some it is indispensable if it 
is desired to reap the full benefit of the stock. It 
saves the watching necessary in the case of natural 
swarms ; and if conducted on right principles, renders 
the artificial colony quite independent of the casualties 
to which natural sv/arms are liable. Moreover, it 
secures the multiplication of swarms in cases, where 
if left to the natural process, there would be none. 
Should a continued tract of bad weather take place 
about the usual period of swarming, the old queen 
would have time and opportunity to destroy all the 
royal progeny, — for the bees never oppose the queen 
mother in such cases, — and thereby entirely frustrate 
the hope of multiplication by natural swarms. To 
avoid this evil we must have recourse to artificial 
swarming. The general period proper for the opera- 
tion is about eight or ten days previous to the time 



THE HONEY-BEE. 200 

when natural swarms might be looked for. At that 
time it is likely royal brood will be found in the 
combs, or at all events, abundance of eggs and larvae 
of workers, from which to rear an artificial queen, — 
and the males are also at this time numerous; — a 
state of things indispensable to the success of artifi- 
cial swarming. The mode of operation is various, 
and has been described by almost every writer on 
the subject of Bees. With common hives the pro- 
cess is somewhat difiicult, and not always successful. 
The following experiments, however, will shew that 
it is not impracticable. From the first to the third 
week of June, our hives had all thrown their top or 
prime swarms. But instead of sending off their 
seconds, or casts, ten or twelve days thereafter, as 
is generally the case, four of them had not swarmed 
nearly three weeks beyond that period. This was 
in all likelihood owin» to an unfavourable change 
of weather, which, by delaying the swarming, had 
furnished the reigning queen with an opportunity 
of putting to death her intended successors. In this 
state of things, from the crowded condition of the 
hives, a mass of bees as large as a man's head, hung 
from the alighting-board of each, a grievous sight to 
the apiarian, as these outliers are quite idle. We 
resolved, therefore, to try artificial swarming with one 
of these hives, and to regulate our proceedings with 
regard to the others according to the issue of this. 
Availing ourselves of the discoveries of Schirach and 
Huber, we cut out of an other hive a piece of comb of 
about 2^ inches square, containing eggs and larvee of 





210 ARTitlCIAL SWARMS. 

the proper age, and fixed it in a Hubcr hive which 
had died out during the preceding winter, and was 
now full of empty comb. We then removed to the 
opposite side of the garden, and quite out of sight, 
one of the hives which had an outlying, or rather out- 
hanging mass attached to its alighting-board, instantly 
clapping down in its place on the same board the 
already prepared hive, and, with the help of a hot sun, 
forcing the others to enter. They made a tremendous 
noise, and seemed much disconcerted at finding, in- 
stead of the rich combs they had hitherto been familiar 
with, nothing but empty cells. This agitation was 
kept up all the day by the continued arrival of those 
bees which had been abroad when the substitution 
took place, and who added greatly to the population. 
At noon next day we inspected the new establishment, 
and found, to our great satisfaction, that the experi- 
ment had completely succeeded. The foundations of 
three royal cells had been laid in the small piece of 
brood comb we had given them. In due time the 
Queen was hatched, the hive prospered, and at the 
end of the season, we took from it nine quarts of 
honey. I may observe, that, though it was a Ruber's 
hive we used on this occasion, it would have succeeded 
equally well with a straw one ; the construction of 
the hive had no influence on the experiment farther 
than that it rendered it easier to fasten the piece of 
brood comb, from its being made to open in leaves.* 

* We repeated this operation on a common hive this season, 
(1834,) sending off the artificial swarm immediately to tlie 
heath. On bringing it hack, three weeks afterwards, we found 



THE HONEY-BEE. 211 

From another hive, made of straw, that hung out 
in the same manner, we extracted a swarm by a 
method described by some of the older Bee-masters, 
and with equal success : We carried the full hive 
into a dark place, — turned it up, — fixed it in the frame 
of a chair from which the stuffed bottom had been 
removed, — placed an empty hive over it, joining them 
mouth to mouth, — and partially drove it.* As soon 
as we perceived that about half of the bees had 
ascended into the empty hive, — knowing that in these 
cases the queen is generally amongst the foremost, — 
we immediately replaced the old hive on its former 
station, and removed the new one containing the 
queen, to a little distance. As the former had plenty of 
egg« and young broody they were at no loss to procure 
another queen ; while the other having a queen, pro- 
ceeded to work in all respects as a natural swarm. 

With such a hive as Huber's, or any other square - 
shaped hive that opens in two parts vertically, the 

satisfactory proofs of the complete success of the operation. 
The hive contained a considerable quantity of honey, and, 
what was of greater consequence to the naturalist, the piece 
of brood comb Avhich had been inserted, of about two inches 
square, contained the remains of two royal cells, one of which 
was open at the end, while the other had its opening in the 
broadside. From these appearances we infer, that, from the 
first cell a queen had issued in the natural way, and had suc- 
ceeded in. destroying her rival in the other, effecting her pur- 
pose by tearing open the cell in the quarter which afforded 
direct access to the vital parts of her rival's body. 

* By driving is to be understood the process of forcing the 
bees out of a full his-e into an empty one. The mode of 
operating is described at length in page 227. 



212 ARTIFICIAL SWARMS. 

operation is very simple^ more satisfactory, and less 
dependant on contingencies. Let a hive be prepared 
of precisely the same dimensions as the one to be 
operated on, and of the same construction, namely, 
opening vertically in two halves. Early in the 
morning, or in the evening, when the bees are all at 
home, let the hive be gently separated. The bees, 
always most irritable when idle, will dart out in no 
placid hmnour, and must therefore be kept from an- 
noying the operator, by the use of smoke. Apply to 
each full half an empty one, carefully fastening them 
together by hooks and eyes previously arranged. 
We haVjC thus two hives, each half full of bees, brood, 
and honey. One of them will possess the queen, and 
the other will have royal brood, or at all events, eggs 
and larvae of all ages wherewith to originate a queen. 
As soon as they have recovered from the panic caused 
by the operation, and have all retired into the inte- 
rior, let both doors be closed that there may be no 
communication between the two divided communi- 
tiies. Two or three hours afterwards, listen atten- 
tively to each, and it will be readily ascertained from 
the quiet state of the one, and the loud disorderly 
buzzing of the other, that the queen is present with 
the former, and that the other is distressed at the 
discovery of their loss. Carry off the one with the 
queen, and shut it up in a dark apartment for twenty- 
four hours, leaving the other in the original station. 
If this last had no royal brood at the time of the 
separation, it will, within twenty-four hours, have set 
about forming an artificial queen, and the operation 



THE HONEY-BEE. 21 3 

IS finished. The other may now be brought from its 
confinement, and placed on another pedestah Pos- 
sessing a queen, there is little danger of any of the 
bees leaving it for the other ; and even this may be 
effectually prevented by placing that other in con- 
finement for twenty-four hours, after which time, 
the hive with the old queen will have become ac- 
customed to their new station. 

We have recommended the employment of smoke 
in the above operation. This is so useful an auxi- 
liary in every operation with bees, that it is worth 
while to ascertain the most effectual and convenient 
method of using it. Howatson has given a descrip- 
tion of an instrument which seems well enough suited 
to the purpose : '' We use," says he, *' a fumigat- 
ing box of tin, of the form of which we cannot give 
a better idea, though rather a ludicrous one, than 
supposing it an old shoe, with a hole in the toe, 
and a spur on the heel ; the mouth of this shoe, 
moreover, is covered with a hinged lid. The spur 
is a tube communicating with the interior, for receiv- 
ing the pipe of a pair of common hand-bellows, the 
blast of which drives the smoke forward through 
the hole in the toe into the skep. The burning 
rags, or other materials for producing the smoke, lie 
directly under the lid, and a piece of moveable per- 
forated tin is put in near the mouth, so as to intercept 
the sparks which would otherwise be emitted, and 
burn the bees or melt the combs. This fumigatins 
box is ten inches long and three broad ; it is two 
inches deep at the heel, and tapers gradually down 



2! 4 DEPRIVATION AND TRANSPORTATION. 

to a quarter at the toe. It is to be particularly 
attended to in the construction, that there be as few 
joinings as possible, and these are to be fastened 
with rivets instead of solder.* We have made what 
we think an improvement on this instrument, — not 
on the principle, but on the shape, and the mode of 
using it ; and have given a figure of it in PI. XIII. 
fig. 2. A is the body of the instrument, having a 
bottom at b, perforated with small holes, through 
which the smoke of burning rags, or of tinder, or of 
dried cow-dung, made damp before being used, 
placed inside at A, will be blown out at the point c ; 
D is the lid which slips on the body, after the rags 
are kindled within, having a tube E treble the dia- 
meter of the opening at c. The rim of the lid is 
perforated with holes ^ inch in diameter, correspond- 
ing to the same number of holes in the body of the 
instrument, the use of which is to admit the air by 
bringing the holes over each other, and thus to pre- 
vent the fire from being extinguished, when the 
operator occasionally lays it out of his hand. When 
about to resume it, a half-turn of the lid, by break- 
ing the correspondence of the holes, will again ex- 
clude the air J f is a ring by which the instrument 
is held ; if an assistant is at hand, he may insert 
the nozzle of a pair of hand-bellows into the mouth 
of the tube e, and thus add to its efficiency. The 
instrument is made of tin, having all the joinings 
rivetted instead of being soldered. It is on a scale 
of six or seven times the dimensions of the figure. 
* Howatson on Bees, page 62. 



THE HONEY BEE. 215 

It is almost needless to add^ that if the operator be a 
smoker of tobacco, a few whiffs from his pipe will 
ansvver the purpose better than either of the modes 
above described. 

On Deprivation and Transportation. — The swarm- 
ing season terminates, generally, about the first week 
of July, a few days sooner or later, according to the 
climate, and the temperature of the season. After 
that period, no emigration ought to be allowed; or 
if it take place in spite of our endeavours to prevent 
it, the swarms should be restored to the mother- 
hives. The massacre of the Males, which takes 
place about the beginning of August, seems to afford 
a not unequivocal symptom that the richest part of 
the honey-season is nearly over, and that the bees 
are aware of the necessity of cutting off all unneces- 
sary expenditure of food. Those cultivators, there- 
fore, who pursue the system of appropriating a portion 
of the honey accumulated during the summer-months 
of June and July, — who content themselves with a 
ekare only of the fruits of Bee-industry, and who 
make use of hives conveniently constructed for this 
purpose, — or who have an opportunity of availing 
themselves of the near neighbourhood of heath, — 
may now proceed with the process of deprivation. 

The use of storied hives, of Ruber's, and of others 
which divide vertically into halves, renders this pro- 
cess very simple. The quantity of honey in hives 
of this construction can be at all times accurately 
ascertained ; so that it can be seen at once whether 
there be any available surplus, and what combs, as 



21 G DEPRIVATION AND TRANSPORTATION. 

containing brood, must be carefully preserved. The 
upper box in storied hives is then free from brood, 
and may easily be removed, not only without present 
detriment to the inmates, but almost without their 
knowledge. The modus operandi will be pointed 
out afterwards. It is not impracticable to accom- 
plish deprivation with the common straw-hive ; but 
it is attended with so much difficulty, and is so 
liable to failure, that it is seldom attempted. The 
mode of proceeding, however, as recommended and 
practised by Wildman, is to remove the full hive 
into a darkened room, and by repeated strokes on the 
outside, to force the bees to ascend into an empty 
one, placed immediately above the other j after which 
the deprived bees are removed to their usual stand 
in the apiary. In the mean time the operator, with 
a thin pliable knife, cuts out the full combs, and 
scrapes off with a spoon what may have escaped the 
knife j he then returns the bees to their old hive. 
To the great mass of those who cultivate bees, thife 
operation appears troublesome and dangerous; and 
where it is attempted, it often fails, from the desire 
of appropriating too large a share of the stores, and 
from the destruction of the brood- combs. In certain 
circumstances, however, the operation, when done 
judiciously, may, even with straw-hives, be done with 
safety ; and that is when the deprived hives are to 
be immediately removed to the vicinity of heath. 
Change of pasture is most advantageous to these 
insects at this season ; for while the flowers in one 
district have entirely faded, those of another may be in 



THE HONEY-BEE. 21? 

full bloom. In corn-districts, especially, this chaHge 
is indispensable. After the middle of August, wide 
tracts of the richest arable lands, unless in the im- 
mediate vicinity of heath, present to the bees but a 
barren desert ; the wild flowers are almost all gone, 
and in those that still remain, the secretion of honey 
proceeds very slowly and scantily. And what is of 
still more importance, the white or Dutch clover, 
which, in a highly-cultivated country, forms the great 
dependence of the apiary, has disappeared ; and 
hardly any thing remains but the small patches of 
mignonette in the gardens, and the coarse rag-weed 
or mug-wort in the fields. 

From this period, accordingly, the hives, generally 
speaking, become every day lighter ; and the Bee- 
master, especially after deprivation, must exert his 
skill in checking the evil, otherwise his stocks will 
be unfit to stand the winter. The only remedy, — at 
least the best, — is to transport his hives to a district 
where the bees will find those supplies that are 
wanting at home. 

The practice of removing bees towards the close 
of autumn to fresh pastures prevailed in ancient times, 
as we learn from Columella and others, — and is con- 
tinued at the present day, with great advantage to 
the owners. In China, Egypt, the Grecian Islands, 
and over almost the whole European continent, we 
find the transporting system highly approved of. In 
England we know not that its advantages are ap- 
preciated as they deserve to be ; but in Scotland, 



218 DEPRIVATION AND TRANSPORTATION. 

the practice is almost universal. One instance is thus 
stated by a friend.* '' About five miles from Edin- 
burgli;, at the foot of one of the Pentland hills, stands 
Logan-house, supposed the former residence of Sir 
W. Worthy, celebrated by Allan Ramsay in his 
Gentle Shepherd. This house i& now occupied by a 
shepherd, who, during July and August, receives 
about 100 bee-hives from his neighbours beyond the 
hills, that their bees may gather the honey from the 
luxuriant blossoms of the mountain heather." 

The exact period when transportation is to be had 
recourse to, must be regulated by the localities, and 
by the temperature of the season. But in general, 
the Bee-master will act safely if he adopt the decay 
of the white clover as the signal of removal. At that 
period, the heath is coming into bloom, and soon 
presents a rich fund of sweets to the eager collectors. 
By transporting them thither, a double harvest may 
be reaped. In the autumn of 1828, we took nearly the 
whole stores from a few hives, before transporting 
them to the moors ; and on bringing them back, after 
an absence of about three weeks, they had acquired 
at an average ten lbs. of honey each. Double this 
quantity in the same period of time, if the weather 
is dry and sunny, is by no means uncommon, as the 
fruit of transportation. But much depends on the 
season ; and the rains so often prevailing in August 
and September, frequently disappoint the expectations 
of the owner. In 1829, during the autumn of which 
* Pr, Bevan 



THE HONEY-BEE. 219 

the rains Avere unceasing, though never very heavy, 
we sent four hives to the heath ; but brought them 
back again considerably diminished in weight. 

Along with the deprived hives — that is, those from 
which a portion of their stores have been taken, — 
there should be sent to enjoy the benefit of change 
of pasture, such swarais of the season as had emi- 
grated late, or had been unusually small ; and to 
give them a better chance of success, two of this de- 
scription should be united before their removal. 
Their station on the new pasture-ground should not 
be less than three miles distant from the apiary, 
otherwise they may find their way back to their 
original resting-place, and perish. The flight of the 
Bee, according to Huber, extends generally about 
half-a-league. If that Naturalist meant a German 
league, as he probably did, according to this calcula- 
tion, a bee will fly at least two English miles in 
quest of food. The proof of the correctness of this 
opinion is given in a note by M. Lombard and in an 
unpublished letter of Huber, of date April 1810, 
which is quoted by M. Lombard in his Treatise. " At 
the time of the revolution, M. Huber lived at Cour, 
near to Lausanne. He had the lake on one side of 
his domicile, and vineyards on the other. He soon 
perceived the disadvantage of his position (as re- 
garded his bees.) When the orchards at Cour had 
shed their blossoms, and the few meadows in the 
neighbourhood had been mown, he found the stores 
of his stock-hives diminishing daily; the labours of 
the bees ceased so entirely, that even in summer they 



220 GENERAL HONEY HARVEST. 

would have died of hunger had he not succoured 
them. In the meantime, while matters were going 
on so badly at Cour, the bees at Renan, Chabliere, 
Vaux, CerVj &c. — places at the distance of only half- 
a-league, — were living in the greatest abundance, 
threw numerous swarms, and filled their hives with 
honey and wax." This fact serves as an evidence 
that the flight of a bee, in ordinary cases, is less than 
two English miles ; though we readily admit that in 
some rare, though well authenticated instances, they 
have been known to fly double that distance. The 
general fact is farther confirmed by the following 
sentence in Huber's letter : " If my bees," he says, 
"could have cleared the interval which separated 
them from the places where they would have found 
provisions, they would assuredly have done so, rather 
than die of hunger. They succeeded no better at 
Vevai, although it is not more than half-a-league 
from that place to Haute ville, Chardonne, &c., where 
they throve remarkably well." 

General Honey-Harvest. — About the beginning 
or middle of September, the transported hives are 
brought back to their usual station ; and in a few days, 
according to circumstances, the general honey-har- 
vest commences. The bees have relaxed greatly in 
their labours, — the fields no longer tempt them to go 
a-foraging, — and already the little economists are 
forced to break in on their winter stores. The hives, 
therefore, designed to be reserved as winter stocks, 
must be inspected and weighed. Every one which 
weighs not fifteen or sixteen lbs., exclusive of empty 



THE HONEY-BEE. 221 

hive or skep, bees, brood, &c., ougbt without hesita- 
tion to be rejected. A less quantity by two or three lbs. 
may bring them through the winter, but this will de- 
pend much on the nature of the season ; whereas, 
with the quantity above stated, there is no doubt at 
all of their preservation as far as food is concerned, 
whatever may be the temperature. During frost, 
the bees consume very little indeed ; and if the cold 
increase in severity, still less, if any. But as we 
cannot anticipate what the temperature of the ensuing 
winter may turn out, our wisdom is to take care 
before hand that there be no deficiency in their stores ; 
it cannot be supplied when the cold has actually set 
in. A common straw-hive weighs when empty from 
five to six lbs. — an ordinary swarm about four 
lbs., — the wax of a full hive of the current year 
nearly two lbs., — of the preceding year, at least three 
lbs., — and the farina in the cells not less than one lb., 
making in all about fifteen lbs. A stock, therefore, to 
be secure, ought to be double that weight in the gross, 
that is, should contain not less than fifteen lbs. honey. 
Having selected the stocks, the Cultivator who 
does not practise the mode of partial deprivation, 
alluded to in last chapter, will now reap his general 
harvest. There are three modes of taking the honey, 
each of which has its advocates ; namely Partial De- 
privatioti, applicable to storied and leaf hives ; Suffo-^ 
cation, — and Driving, that is forcing the bees to quit 
their magazines, and uniting the expelled inhabitants 
to the stock-hives. Partial Deprivation consists in 
appropriating early in the season a portion of the 



222 GENERAL HONEY HARVEST. 

stores. In preparing prospectively for thus sharing 
in the products of the'hivOj the Cultivator who pur- 
sues the storifying system^ immediatel}'' after the 
swarming season is over_, adds another story or box 
to the two of which his hive consists^ placing it 
undermost, or as it is called by some Bee-Masters, 
Nadir-ing. The brood-combs contained in the up- 
permost story, will, as the young bees are hatched, 
be quickly filled with honey, and may be removed 
about the beginning of August. The top cover is 
then replaced on the next story in position, which 
was originally the lower, and is now the upper. In 
ordinary seasons, the bees will have ample time to 
lay in sufficient food for winter and spring use, after 
the abstraction of this portion of their stores. As the 
combs of the upper box are frequently found ad- 
hering by their lower extremities to the bars of the 
next, it will be necessary, before removal, to separate 
them by meatis of a very thin long-bladed knife or a 
fine wire, (a piano-forte string will answer well,) 
drawn through the hive at the point of junction. The 
operator will next expel the bees from this box or 
story, by lifting the top-cover, and blowing in a little 
smoke, which will cause the inhabitants to retreat 
quickly to the lower regions. The box may then be 
taken away, without the operator running the risk of 
the slightest annoyance. The same effect may be pro- 
duced by driving.* The honey found in this removed 
box, will not be all honey of the current season, and 
consequently is not so delicately fine. It is also 
* See in page 227 directions for the operation of driving. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 223 

sometimes found mixed with, or ratlier deposited 
above, alayer of farina. Should it be wished, therefore, 
to obtain a supply free from these imperfections, the 
empty story which is added, may be placed above, 
instead of below the original stock, and the honey will 
thus be of a superior kind. This mode of operating is 
called super-'mg, in contra-distinction to nadi)'-mg.^ 
This practice of partial deprivation has never yet 
become general, because it is liable to frequent failure, 
even in improved hives, and because the full benefit 
is not derived from it at the very commencement of 
the system. The liability to failure, the first of the 
objections stated^ is owing in most instances, not to 
the mode, but to the period of the operation. Ac- 
cording to the too common ppactice of those who are 
friendly to deprivation, a portion of honey is abstract- 
ed from the hives about the bednning or middle of 
September ; and the owner compliments himself on 
his moderation in being content with a part instead 
of the whole, and on his humanity in saving the lives 
of his industrious favourites ; while in nine instances 
out of ten, he finds, on the arrival of March, that his 
moderation and humanity have been altogether un- 
availing; and that he has saved them from a violent 
death by suffocation, only to expose them to the 
more tardv, but not less cruel death, by starvation. 
Whereas, if deprivation take place soon after the 
swarming season, as already recommended, and is 
managed with discretion, the issue will be very diffe- 

* Dr. Be van practises Nadir-ing only with yoixng swarms, 
and Super-ing with those of preceding years. 



224 GENERAL HONEY HARVEST. 

rent, and ultimately more profitable to the owner, 
than the almost universally practised mode by suffo- 
cation, which is too well known to need description. 
The latter system may yield a greater return in pro- 
portion to the hives operated upon, — but in the 
former, there is a much greater number of hives 
available. For example : Suppose two apiaries, each 
containing five stock-hives at the end of July, ex- 
clusive of as many swarms recently thrown. The 
owner of the one, practising the depriving system, 
takes from each of his stocks ten lbs. of honey, making 
an amount of fifty lbs. as his honey-harvest. The 
owner of the other, an abettor of suffocation, proceeds 
in September to smoke his five old hives, and receives 
from each twenty-five fes. of honey, making an amount 
of 125 lbs. as his honey-harvest, between two and 
three times the quantity of the other. In the follow- 
ing year, the Depriver has his five old stock -hives, 
and the five swarms now become stocks also ; from 
the whole ten he now takes 100 lbs. of honey, while 
at the same time his apiary is augmented by the ad- 
dition of ten new swarms, making twenty for the fol- 
lowing year; while his rival possesses only his 
former number of five yielding 125 lbs. In the next 
year, that is, two years from the commencement of 
the comparative trial, the Depriver has twenty stock- 
hives yielding 200 lbs., — and so on by a geometrical 
ratio, — while the other remains at his original 1 25 lbs. 
This calculation is made on the supposition that each 
owner takes but one swarm from each stock, and 
without making any allowance for losses and failures 



THE HONEY-BEE. 225 

which will affect the produce of both, in honey and 
bees, but to which both are liable. 

We are now to compare the"' suffocating system 
with that by which, even though we defer the honey 
harvest to the usual late period of September, we may 
obtain the same quantity of produce, and at the same 
time save the lives of the bees. " Were we to kill 
the hen for her egg," says Wildman indignantly, 
" the cow for her milk, or the sheep for the fleece it 
bears, every one would instantly see how much we 
should act contrary to our interest ; and j'et this is 
practised every year in our inhuman and impolitic 
slaughter of the bees." It is mortifying to find writers 
of some celebrity in this branch of rural economy, 
defending the practice of suffocation, and using such 
arguments as the following : " If he who dines every 
day on a good dish of animal food, does not find fault 
with the farmer who sold his cattle to the butcher, 
or who carried them to the market after he had him- 
self cut their throats, — why does he exclaim against 
the Bee-cultivator who suffocates insects destined by 
nature to die in the following year ?"* Independent 
of the consideration that the carcase of the bee is 
not, like that of the sheep or ox, of use after its 
death, and that advantage may be derived from it 
while in life, the cold calculating spirit which could 
approve and recommend such uncalled-for barbarity, 
seems very inconsistent with the enthusiastic admira- 
tion of the insect generally felt by apiarians, and be- 
trays more of the selfishness of the honey-merchant, 
* Feburier, Traite des Abeilles, 
P 



226 GENERAL HONEY HARVEST. 

than the generous feelings of the delighted Naturalist. 
No doubt, reasoning analogically, we have the same 
right to destroy our bees, without being liable to the 
charge of inhumanity, as we have to take the life of 
our sheep or oxen. Both were designed for our use, 
and if the death of the animals is necessary to give 
us the full benefit of what was originally intended 
for our service, there is no inhumanity in fulfilling 
the designs of nature. At the same time, our 
humane feelings must be at a very low ebb indeed, 
if we can make use of this right without some 
degree of pain and regret, when the object to be 
sacrificed to our benefit has been to us a source of 
innocent enjoyment ; nay, it may be reasonably ex- 
pected, that the interest we feel in that object, will 
not only prevent us from destroying it wantonly and 
unnecessarily, but will induce us anxiously to inquire 
whether the barbarous alternative may not be avoided 
in perfect consistency with our real advantage. 

Now, it is as clear as day, that the advantage of 
the owner is best consulted by saving the lives of his 
bees ; because, independent of the satisfaction of 
eschewing the odious task of sacrificing what we 
have long watched with so much anxiety, and con- 
templated with so much admiration, the conservative 
system yields as large, if not a larger produce than 
the destructive, with this additional advantage, that 
the honey is not deteriorated by the unwholesome 
fumes of the sulphur* made use of in suffbcation ; 

* Objections are sometimes made to the free use of honey, 
that it is very apt to produce disorders in the stomach and 



THE HONEY-BEE. 227 

and, ill the next place, we have the industrious col- 
lectors themselves ready in another season to renew 
their labours and add to our riches, — and requiring 
only to be united to some well-provisioned stock-hive 
which can afford to maintain them. It is pitiable to 
reflect that the small degree of additional trouble re- 
quired in uniting them,* should prove so effectual an 
obstacle to this conservative practice. Yet the opera- 
tion with each hive so treated, need not occupy more 
than fifteen or twenty minutes. In the evening when 
all are quiet, turn up the hive which is to be operated 
upon, fixing it in a chair from which the stuffed bot- 
tom has been removed ; place an empty hive above 
it, wrap a cloth round the point of junction, to pre- 
vent the bees from coming out, and annoying the ope- 
rator ; then, with a short stick or stone in each hand, 
beat round the sides but gently for fear of loosen- 
ing the combs. In five minutes, the panic-struck 
insects will hastily mount into the empty hive, with 

bowels. Some medical men are of opinion that the sulplmr, 
and not the honey is the cause of the evil. 

On submitting this note to Dr. Bevan, he made the follow- 
ing remarks upon it : " The fumes of sulphur are converted 
into sulphuric acid, (vitriolic acid,) and the quantity which 
mingles with the honey is very small. I am fully persuaded, 
that so far from its causing the honey to disagree with the 
stomach and bowels, its tendency would be to produce a 
contrary effect. It is the honey, and the honey only that 
disagrees ; to a greater or less extent, of course, according to 
the pasturage from which it has been collected. I knew a 
gentleman who could not be in the same room with uncovered 
honey without having his bowels disordered." 

* The French call this operation " marrying hives." 



228 GENERAL HONEY HARVEST. 

a loud humming noise expressive of their trepidation. 
The hives are then separated, — that containing the 
bees is placed on its usual pedestal, — and the other 
containing the honey is carried off. The union is 
next to be effected. Turn up the stock-hive which 
is to receive the addition to its population, — with a 
bunch of feathers, or a small watering-pan, such as 
is used for watering flower-beds, drench them with 
a solution of ale and sugar, or water and sugar, made 
a little warm. Do the same to the expelled bees ; 
and then placing these last over the stock, mouth to 
mouth, a smart rap on the top of the hive will drive 
them down among the bees and combs of the under- 
most hive. Place this last on its pedestal, and the 
operation is completed. The strong flavour of the 
solution will prevent them from distinguishing be- 
tween friend and stranger ; and their first movement, 
after recovering from their panic, will be to lick the 
liquid from one another's bodies. This mode of 
operating is applicable to all kinds of hives. It will 
be an advantage, though attended with a little addi- 
tional trouble, to search for, and destroy the queen 
of the expelled bees, before the union takes place. 
Two queens cannot subsist together in one hive. 
When two hives are united, therefore, what becomes 
of the supernumerary queen ? She is put to death 
by the bees generally within twenty- four hours from 
the time of the union. But as the bees are the 
executioners, it is within the bounds of possibility 
that both queens may fall a sacrifice. The followers 
of one queen may seize upon her rival, and destroy 



THE HONEY-BEE. 229 

her, in ignorance that their own proper sovereign 
has been perhaps ah-eady put hors de combat by the 
subjects of the other ; and, in such a case, the ruin 
of the whole community will be the ultimate con- 
sequence, because at this season there are no eggs 
nor larvae, nor males, where\\dth to repair the disaster. 
It is safer, therefore, to search for, and remove the 
queen of the swarm that has been dislodged, and is 
to be " married," before the union takes place ; she 
will with little difficulty be discovered and laid hold 
of in a hive without comb. 

The hives denuded of the bees, being now carried 
into the house,' the process of extracting the honey 
from the combs must commence immediately, while 
it retains its natural warmth. It will then flow freely, 
and if there is a fire in the apartment where the ope- 
ration is carried on, the work will be greatly facili- 
tated. As it is of much importance in preserving 
the fine flavour of the honey, that it should be ex- 
posed as little as possible to the external air, the 
mode of manipulation pointed out by Bonner, and 
repeated after him by other writers, cannot be com- 
mended. The following is the kind of apparatus we 
have made use of for a gi'eat many years, and find to 
answer well. (PL XIII. fig. 1 .) It consists of a tin 
vessel of an oval shape, (having a spigot at the bot- 
tom,) 18 inches long, 7 broad, and 5 deep. Resting 
upon this, is another vessel of the same shape, and 
just so much smaller that its under edge slips within 
the other to the extent of an inch, and is prevented 
from sinking farther by a raised beading. The bottom 



230 GENERAL HONEY HARVEST, 

is pierced closely with holes, each the 1 6th or 20th of 
an inch in diameter. Above the bottom, inside, and 
at the distance of an inch from it, stands upon four 

feet, a stage. A, of the same shape and size, 

made of wire cloth, of \ inch mesh. Under the 
bottom, is fixed a piece of fine muslin, B, the edges 
of which are brought out at the joining of the two 
vessels. In using this ajjparatus, the combs being 
sliced horizontally through the cells, are laid with the 
cut side undermost upon the wire cloth stage, which 
retains all the bulky part of the wax, and prevents it 
from clogging the holes below ; the honey drops upon 
the bottom, and runs through the small holes which 
prevent the lesser particles of wax from getting 
through, while the muslin below causes it to flow in 
almost perfect purity into the under vessel, from 
whence it issues through the spigot into the store- 
jars. A cover put on the top vessel, after the sliced 
comb has been deposited, completes the exclusion of 
the external air, with which the honey never comes 
in contact till it runs from the spigot. The wax is 
next to be attended to, and there cannot be, perhaps, 
a simpler and more effectual direction for its manipu- 
lation than that which is given by the Abbe della 
Rocca. The wax is put into a woollen bag, firmly 
tied at the mouth ; the bag is plunged into a pan of 
boiling water; the pure material oozes through the 
cloth, and swims on the surface ; it is carefully 
skimmed off, as long as any continues to rise, and 
poured into a shallow earthen bowl, which is pre- 
viously wetted to prevent the wax from adhering to 



THE HONEY-BEE. 231 

its sides. It must be allowed to cool very gradually, 
otherwise the cake which it forms will crack ; and, 
therefore, it should be kept in a warm place. 

Management of Bees during Winter', — The honey- 
harvest being now over, it will be necessary to pre- 
pare the stock -hives for passing the winter in safety. 
For this purpose, certain preliminary precautions are 
requisite, and none more so than to guard against 
pillage. After the process of separating the honey 
from the wax, it is usual and economical to carry out 
to the apiary, the vessels and implements employed 
in the manipulation ; and the bees will readily avail 
themselves of whatever honey may adhere to them, 
and clean them effectually. Pieces of refuse comb, 
also, are presented to them, and in a very short time 
the industrious insects rifle them of every particle of 
saccharine matter. Having exhausted these sources, 
the bees are tempted often by the more than usually 
strong odour exhaled from the hives in consequence 
of their recent luxurious feasting, to rob their neigh- 
bours of their share of the booty; and a scene of 
pillage ensues which sometimes ends in the total de- 
struction of the besieged hives. If the colony attacked 
be pretty strong in population, the evil may be put a 
stop to, perhaps, by contracting the entrance. Every 
proper door has one or two small holes at the bottom, 
which may be opened or shut as occasion requires, 
just large enough to admit the passing of a single bee. 
This contracted entrance greatly assists a besieged 
colony j but the doors are generally so thin, that the 
robbers often effect an entrance by adroitly slipping 



232 MANAGEMENT IN WINTER. 

past the sentinel on watch. An improvement^ and 
a very simple one, in the formation of the doors, 
will increase the difficulty of eluding the vigilance of 
the guard ; make them 1 1 inch thick, the small aper- 
tures will then he to the bees, in fact, long narrow 
passages, along which they will he unable to make 
their way in the face of the opposing sentinel. Doors 
of this kind sliould remain on the hives during the 
whole winter. If the precaution above recommended 
fails, the hive attacked must be removed for a few 
days, till quiet is in some degree restored to the 
apiary; arid, in the meantime, to amuse and baffle 
the assailants, an empty hive may occupy the station. 
No stock -hive ought at this season to require feed- 
ing. Still, circumstances may occur, as in the case of 
long-continued bad weather during the end of autumn, 
which may render- some supply beneficial and even 
necessary. In such cases, the best mode of admini- 
stering it, is to raise the hive which is to be assisted, 
on a round or square frame of wood, two or three 
inches deep, and place in the vacuum thus produced, 
two or three pieces of full comb on edge, and in their 
natural position. The bees will soon drain them, 
storing the contents in the upper region of their do- 
micile, after which the frame and empty comb may 
be removed. In default of comb, syrup must be sup- 
plied, as directed in page 186. 

It is almost needless to say, that feeding during 
winter is out of the question, even though the season 
should be mild. It is unnecessary, and would prove 
injurious, tempting the insects to leave the compara- 



THE HONEY-BEE. 233 

tively warm atmosphere of the centre of the hive 
where they are congregated in dense clusters, and to 
expose themselves to the colder temperature helow 
which chills, and ultimately destroys them. At the 
same time, we must not be understood as recom- 
mending the shutting them up altogether, so that they 
cannot take the advantage of an occasional interval 
of sunshine. Leave the narrow apertures free, both 
in order to admit the fresh air, and to afford the bees 
an opportunity of coming abroad when they can do 
so in safety. Absolute confinement is extremely pre- 
judicial to them. The practice which prevails in 
some places of removing the hives into the dwelling- 
house, by way of preserving them from the cold, is 
by no means to be recommended ; and, in fact, is 
often followed by fatal effects. The increased tem- 
perature of the place to which they have been re- 
moved, keeps them in such a state of animation and 
excitement, that they continue to eat during the whole 
period of their confinement, and not being at liberty to 
go abroad and evacuate, their bodies become swollen 
and diseased by the retention of their faeces, — for 
they are most unwilling to soil the interior of their 
dwelling, — and great numbers of them are thus 
cut off; and when in spring the hive is brought into 
the open air, the few inhabitants that remain are too 
feeble to bear the sudden change of temperature, and 
gradually d\\dndle away, or are plundered and de- 
stroyed by the more vigorous and healthy. 

While snow is on the ground, a gleam of sunshine 
will cast such a glare of light into the interior of the 



234 MANAGEMENT IN WINTER. 

hiveSj that the bees are often induced to venture 
abroad, and, soon chilled by the cold, they fall in 
hundreds on the snow, and, if not timely succoured, 
will ultimately perish. This evil may be prevented 
in some degree by turning, as soon as winter has set 
fairly in, the hives round on their stands, so that the 
entrance may face the north.* If this precaution 
has not been taken in time^ and the unfortunate 
wanderers are already prostrate on the snow, let 
them be instantly gathered, placed in a vessel, (a 
dinner-dish-cover, for example,) having a piece of 

* Mr. Nutt, the Lincolnshire Bee-Master alluded to in 
page 1 82, gives, in his work, an account of an experiment 
to ascertain the effect of changing the site of hives from 
a southern to a northern exposure during winter. He took 
six hives weighing as under, and placed three on the north side 
of his house, leaving the other three in their usual situation. 
In November 1834, 

No. 1 weighed 35 lbs. No. 4 weighed 42 lbs. 

2 — 38 5—32 

3 — 40 6 _ 37 



113 111 

The first three, Nos. 1, 2, & 3, weighing 113 lbs., remained 
during winter in their summer situations. Nos, 4, 5, & 6, were 
removed to a cold dry place on the north side of his house. 
On the 26th of the following March they weighed as follows 
No. 1. weighed 15 lbs. No. 4. weighed 37 lbs. 

2. _ 16 5. _ 27 

3. — 19 6. _ 32 



50 96 

The three first, therefore, lost 63 lbs., on an average 21 lbs. 
each ; the three last decreased only 15 lbs., average 5 lbs each. 
The three last swarmed in May, the three first not till July. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 235 

thin muslin spread over its mouth, and held within a 
yard of the fire. When they recover, which they 
will do in a few minutes, let them be taken out to the 
apiary, and the muslin removed, and they will speedi- 
ly regain their respective habitations. 

Once or twice during the winter, the hives ought 
to be lifted from their stools, and carefully inspect- 
ed ; all cobwebs swept off, the floor-board thoroughly 
cleaned, and the outer covers or surtouts repaired 
and adjusted, so that the rain or snow may not gain 
admittance; the snow, especially, as soon as fallen 
should be cleared away. 

In the preceding chapter, when treating of taking 
the honey, and at the same time preserving the lives 
of the bees, we recommended the uniting of the ex- 
pelled bees to the stock-hives, and pointed out an 
easy method of accomplishing this union. If the 
stock-hive be very large, two or even three expelled 
swarms may be joined to it. In that case it will be 
prudent to see that there is sufficient provision for so 
many additional mouths ; for nothing seems more 
reasonable, or more consonant with experience, than 
the conclusion, that if the population be increased, 
the means of maintaining it must alsabe augmented. 
And yet a verj'- experienced Bee-master has averred, 
and supports his averments by a minute detail of his 
experiments on the subject, that it is not necessary 
the reinforced hive should have double or treble 
stores in order to supply the wants of its now doubled 
or trebled population. The fact, — if fcict it be, — is 
rather astounding; however, M. Gelieu, a Swiss 



236 MANAGEMENT IN WINTER. 

clergyman^ author of " Le Conservateur des Aheilles," 
and the discoverer of this supposed fact, shall speak 
for himself. We have never put his discovery to the 
test of experiment — at least with such minute accu- 
racy as to warrant us in drawing conclusions, either 
affirmative or otherwise. But from the detail which 
M. Gelieu gives, there appears no great difficulty in 
settling the point beyond all doubt, whatever there 
may be in ascertaining the reasons for it, if well- 
founded. " I expected," says M. Gelieu, " that in 
doubling the population, it would be necessary to 
double the supply too. The more mouths, said I to 
myself, the more need of provisions. I consequent- 
ly made a considerable addition to the stores of the 
hives whose population I had augmented ; but, to 
my astonishment, when I weighed them at the re- 
turn of spring, I found that their consumption had 
been no greater than that of the single hives. I 
thought I must surely have made some mistake, and 
was not convinced of the fact till I had repeated the 
same experiment a hundred times, and always with 
the same result. I cannot conceive how an army of 
30,000 men can subsist on the supplies necessary for 
an army of only 10,000, supposing the soldiers of 
both to have an equal appetite, and equal means of 
satisfying it. It holds true, however, with the bees ; 
the fact is undeniable ; the reason is to me unknown. 
I leave to minds more penetrating than mine the 
task of discovering and explaining how two large 
families, when united, can live at as little expense as 
either of the two would have done when separated. 



THE HONEY-BEE. 237 

Does the increase of heat supply, to a certain extent, 
the place of food ? Does it render their aliment 
more nutritive ? I have reason to believe, that dur- 
ing the winter, and previous to the breeding season, 
a small hive consumes as much food as a large one. 
Do the inmates of the small hive consume individu- 
ally a greater quantity ? and is this greater consump- 
tion necessary to keep up the requisite degree of 
warmth ? I propose these inquiries to the Naturalist. 
After this discovery, as important as it is inexpli- 
cable, I varied my experiments in order to insure ab- 
solute certainty ; and to obtain the most unequivocal 
proofs of the fact, I united three swarms in autumn, 
and when I weighed the hive in spring, I found that 
it had scarcely consumed a pound weight of provi- 
sions more than a single hive. I went farther. I 
had a large hive, well-peopled, and amply provision- 
ed. Without removing it from its place, I joined to 
it the bees oi four other hives. This enormous po- 
pulation produced so strong a heat, that during the 
whole winter, which was severe, there was heard 
from them a loud humming, like that which proceeds 
from a hive on the evening of a fine day in spring. 
The vapour expelled by the continual vibrating of 
their wings was condensed, and formed icicles at the 
entrance of the bive during the hard frosts. Well, 
when in spring I weighed this hive, which contained 
five families, and from which had exhaled so much 
moisture, I found it but three lbs. lighter than my 
ordinary hives. It threw excellent swarms, long 
before the others in the apiary, and I was well re- 



238 



MANAGEMENT IN WINTER. 



paid for my trouble." In proof and illustration of 
these facts, the author subjoins the following Table, 
giving a view of the diminution in weight of each of 
his hives during one winter. 

Diminution of weight in each of thirty-six hives, 
from 20th September 1813, to 31st March 1814: — 



No. 
1. 


j Diminished ) 
( in weight, | 


lbs. 


No. 


i Single hive ) 
( diminished, j" 


lbs. 


10 


27. 


10^ 


2. 




lOi 


30. 




13 


3. 




m 


32. 




n 


4. 




12 


38. 




8 


8. 




11 


A. 




9i 


10. 




9 


B. 




10 


11. 




8^ 


C. 




124 


13. 


A doubled hive, 


11 


D. 




10| 


15. 




loi 


1. 


Wooden hive. 


Hi 


IG. 


A doubled hive, 


lOi 


4. 


Doubled hive, 


H 


17. 


A doubled hive, 


14 


6. 




11 


20. 




10 


7. 




84 


21. 




14 


8. 




19 


22. 


A doubled hive. 


8i 


9. 




10 


23! 




lOi 


11. 




131 


24. 




9 


13. 




15 


25. 




15 


21. 




10 


26. 




12i 


23. 


Doubled, 


114 



From this Table it appears that the average ex- 
penditure of thirty-six hives in six months, was about 
eleven lbs. each ; and that the smallest expenditure 
in any one hive was eight lbs., and the greatest nine- 
teen lbs. This last difference the author attributes 
to pillage, and thinks it probable that the straw-hive. 
No. 38, had enriched itself at the expense of its 



THE HONEY-BEE. 239 

neighbours, while the wooden-box, No. 8, had been 
plundered. 

The numbers a wanting in the Table belonged to 
hives from which he had taken the honey, or which 
he had fed, and were not, therefore, legitimate sub- 
jects of experiment. 



HUMBLE-BEES. 

We have now to notice the nature and habits of 
another tribe of the social Apidae, familiarly known 
by the name of Humble-Bees ; but so large a space 
has been already devoted to a more valuable species, 
that our descriptions must be comparatively brief. 
Humble-Bees, as far as we know, have never been do- 
mesticated, or made directly subservient to the inter- 
ests of mankind ; although it is not improbable that 
means might be found of turning their labours to 
account, did not the possession of a more useful 
species remove all inducement to make the attempt. 
They constitute, however, a very interesting portion 
of our insect population for a variety of reasons. 
Their economy, although greatly inferior in interest 
to that of the hive bee, is still extremely curious ; 
their comparatively large size, and gay colours, ren- 
der them conspicuous objects in our fields and gar- 
dens ; the untiring diligence with which they seek 
their food among the blossoms " so busy and so 



240 HUMBLE-BEES. 

pleased/' can hardly be observed without pleasure ; 
while their incessant hum, which often assails our 
ears in heathery uplands, where nearly all other 
indications of life have ceased, forms one of the 
most common of those rural sounds, the entire 
effect of which is usually so agreeable. " There 
are few associations of our childhood," it has been 
recently remarked, " more deep and lasting than 
those connected with the pursuit and capture of 
these beautiful creatures, some of which are remark- 
able for their size, and the rich contrast which they 
exhibit of velvet black and crimson, with bars of 
brilliant yellow. This splendid attire, however, saves 
them not from being rudely handled ; and we remem- 
ber the day when an artificial link, that is, a little 
box made of clay, with a piece of glass at one end, 
and a sprinkling of sugar at the other, contained as 
many captives in proportion to its size as the black 
hole at Calcutta." * 

Although so dissimilar in external aspect, a very 
close connection in regard to structure can be traced 
between the hive-bee and the kinds of which we 
now treat. The respective genera are accordingly 
placed in juxta-position in systematic arrangements. 
For a long period these genera, as well as several 
others, were confounded under the common name 
of Apis, and it was not till a comparatively recent 
date, that the humble-bees were separated, and the 
generic term Bombus applied to them. A different 
formation of certain parts, entailing a difference in 
* Ency. Brit., Art. Entomology. 



HUMBLE-BEES. 241 

their modes of life, having heen suhsequently detected, 
the humble-bees of this country are now very properly 
divided into two generic groups, Bombus and Apa^us. 
They may be distinguished from the hive-bee, and 
other races bearing affinity to them, by having the 
simple eyes arranged in a curve, instead of forming a 
triangle ; by having an impression in the shape of a 
cross on the forehead ; the labrum transverse, and two 
distinct spines at the apex of the posterior tibiae. More 
obvious characters are afforded by their large, com- 
paratively rounded, hirsute bodies, generally adorned 
with bands of light-yellow or red. Upwards of 
forty different species are described as inhabitants of 
Britain ; but as the three distinct races of females, 
males, and workers, belonging to the same species, 
often bear little resemblance to one another, and as 
the hair or down covering their bodies, often of the 
gayest colours, changes with age, like the plumage of 
birds, it is by no means unlikely that individuals of 
the same family, and differing only in sex or age, 
have, in some instances, been described as of a dif- 
ferent species. Speaking of the hirsuties, or hairy 
covering of this family, and of its liability to change 
of colour, Kirby remarks,* '^ An insect recently 
hatched appears in this respect a different species 
from the same when it has been long exposed to 
wind and w^eather. Thus, for instance. Apis Mus- 
corum, which, when fresh from the pupa, is dis- 
tinguished by a thorax covered with hair of a fine 
orange colour, and by an abdomen whose coat is a 
* Monographia Apum Angliae, i. 207. 
Q 



242 HUMBLE-BEES. 

rich yellow ; when it grows old^ especially the male, 
exchanges these brilliant colours for a cinereous hue, 
which circumstance misled Fabricius to give it as a 
distinct species, under the name of A. Senilis. But 
not only yellow and red, but even black and white 
hairs are apt to change their colours through age. 
All these circumstances make it a matter of some 
importance to be able to distinguish a recent insect 
from one that has been long disclosed. This may 
often be done by inspecting the state of its wings, 
for in the latter, especially in males, they are usually 
lacerate at the apex ; the body, too, has frequently 
a good deal of its hair rubbed off. It will not be 
without use to know into what the predominant 
colours fade ; yellow will usually first turn pale, and 
then cinereous ; red will turn through tawny to yel- 
low, and sometimes to cinereous ; white will turn to 
pale, and sometimes to tawny ; and black will now 
and then turn white. But this is not all the difficulty 
with which the describer of the Bombinatrices has 
to struggle ; the males in general resemble the fe- 
males sufficiently to be known as such ; but there 
are several so unlike them as to be easily mistaken 
for different species ; and I am by no means certain 
that I have not, in more instances than one, described 
the sexes under different names. Till all can be 
traced to their nidi, this is not easily to be avoided." 
We shall now proceed to give examples of the 
two genera Bombus and Apatlius. 



243 



COMMON HUMBLE BEE. 

{B03IBUS TE'RRESTRIS.) 

Plate XIV. 

Apis terrestris, Linn. Kirby''s Monog. Apum, ii. 350 Shaiv''s 

general Zool. vi. 348, PI. 98 Donov. Brit. Ins. iii. PI. 88, 

fig. 1. — A. Audax, Harris'' Ea^os. of Eny. Ins. xxxviii. fig. 1. 
— Reaumur^ vi. Tab. 3, fig. 1. 

In its present restricted sense the genus Bombus 
may be briefly characterised by the following defini- 
tion ; body oblong, and very hairy ; head narrower 
than the thorax, usually triangular, the antennae 
having thirteen joints in the female, fourteen in the 
male, geniculated at the second joint ; exterior palpi 
exarticulate, interior two-jointed ; ligula three-lobed, 
the central lobe elongated ; labium transverse sub- 
linear ; hinder tibiae provided with a hollow expan- 
sion for collecting pollen ; claws bifid at the apex. 

The species named above is one of the best known, 
and an account of its habits will convey a pretty 
accurate notion of the proceedings of the rest, although 
they vary somewhat in their modes of life. In the 
female, the head and antennae are black, the mouth 
with rufescent hairs ; proboscis scarcely longer than 
the head ; thorax black, with a bright-yellow band 
anteriorly ; basal segment of the abdomen black, 
second yellow, third black, the three posterior ones 
white; wings light-brown, the thick nervures dark 
coloured, the finer ones ferruginous ; legs black and 
hairy, the pollen, brush, and spines ferruginous. The 
male has the thoracic and abdominal bands either 



244 HUMBLE-BEES. 

pale-yellow or luteous ; the posterior tibiae rather 
smooth above^ the lateral hairs cinereous ; abdomen 
approaching to globose. Slight varieties are formed 
by the coloured bands being sometimes of a lighter 
or a darker hue. 

This insect abounds in our fields and gardens, and 
is almost equally common throughout all Europe. 
It is distinguished above its congeners for strength 
and activity. It is one of the earliest insects that 
appear in the spring, and one of the latest to 
leave us in autumn. It forms its nest, as is well 
known, in holes in the ground, sometimes excavated 
laboriously by its own efforts, sometimes previously 
formed by other animals and taken possession of by 
the foundress of the colony. The females of this, as 
of all the other species, are largest in size, the males 
next, and the workers smallest. Early in spring, 
when the willows begin to bloom, the female may be 
seen traversing the gardens by sun-rise with her 
usual sonorous booming, and busied in collecting 
honey and pollen from the catkins. The workers 
do not appear till a somewhat later period, and the 
males not till autumn, when the thistles are in blos- 
som, upon the flowers of which they are found in 
great numbers, and in still greater, if possible, upon 
seeding leeks and onions, where, on a single flower, 
may be seen half a dozen at the same moment. At 
this early period of the year, the female is a solitary 
being, and her flights are directed in search of a place 
suitable for a habitation. The females only, of all 
the former year's colony, have survived the winter. 



COMMON HUMBLE-EEE. 245 

and now dispersing, eacli seeks a residence for her- 
self, where she may become the foundress of a new 
community. Having pitched upon a convenient spot, 
the laborious insect proceeds to excavate first the 
passage or gallery, then the nest itself, detaching the 
soil, as it were, grain by grain ; she seizes the mole- 
cule with the first pair of legs, transfers it instantly 
to the second, receives it next with the third, and 
finally pushes it as far as possible behind her. These 
excavations, situated often above a foot under the 
surface, are wholly the work of the solitary female. 
Sometimes, however, the nest is made close to, or 
even upon the surface when partially hollow, and 
covered ^\'ith dry moss ; but this is not the usual mode 
pursued by this species, and in such localities the 
colony is far less numerous than when at a greater 
depth. 

Having finished the excavation, and carpeted her 
new dwelling with soft leaves, &c. the insect pro- 
ceeds to construct brood cells. The wax of which 
these are formed is secreted, as in the domestic bee, 
in certain receptacles placed on each side of the 
middle process of the abdominal scales, and is ex- 
tracted by the bee in the form of laminae, moulded 
to the shape of the insect's body. Unlike the Queen 
of the hive bees, the mother-bee of this family pos- 
sesses these wax-secreting organs as well as the 
workers, and produces the substance in greater quan- 
tity than her progeny. 

The interior of the humble-bee nest (PI. XV.) 
presents a striking contrast to that of the honey-bee 



246 HUMBLE-BEES. 

hive. While the beauty and regularity of the latter 
are such as to excite the admiration of mankind, the 
nest of the former offers to the eye of the observer 
little else than a confused and clumsy mass, consist- 
ing, apparently, of mishapen lumps of dirty-coloured 
wax. Amidst these apparent irregularities, however, 
we discover a number of egg-shaped bodies of a 
yellowish colour and of different sizes, some of them 
being 6 lines deep and 4 wide, and others 4 lines 
deep and 2^ wide, placed on end, and closely cement- 
ed together, the central ones projecting above those 
which are situated towards the edge of the mass. 
These ovoidal bodies are cocoons of silk, strong and 
tenacious in their texture, and coated with wax; 
they contain the young brood. Several clusters 
placed near each other form a kind of cake or comb, 
the upper surface of which, from the projection of 
the central cells, is convex, and the under, of course, 
concave. These combs are placed in tiers, one above 
another, and supported by pillars of wax at the outer 
edges. There are also fo«nd in the nest masses of 
wax of a roundish and irregular form, about 1^ inch 
in diameter and ^ inch deep ; these also are brood 
cells but of a peculiar kind, for they contain each six 
or seven larvae lying close together, and bedded on a 
quantity of farina moistened with honey, evidently 
deposited there for their nourishment, and to which 
they can have recourse immediately on being hatched. 
When this is consumed^ the workers, aware, it would 
seem, of the fact, make an opening in the top of the 
cellsj and give from time to time an additional sup- 



COMMON HUMBLE-BEE. 247 

ply, taking care each time to renew the seahng ; and 
this is continued till their transformation into the 
njTiiph state takes place, when the feeding ceases, 
and the cell is finally closed. And, lastly, we find 
displayed in different places throughout the nest, and 
stowed away, as it were, in odd corners, a number 
of small cups or cells filled with honey. A peculi- 
arity with regard to these deserves notice, — they are 
never sealed like those of the domestic bee, because 
they are not designed for winter stores of which 
they have no need, but for daily use. 

The cells being prepared for the reception of the 
brood, the mother proceeds to lay her eggs. These 
are not fixed on one end, as is the case with those 
of the domestic bee, but are huddled together without 
any order, and to the number often, as already stated, 
of six or seven. This number is deposited at one 
time by the mother, who does not quit the cell till 
she has finished her laying. She has good reasons 
for so doing ; — even while in the act of laying, at- 
tempts are eagerly made by the workers to seize and 
devour the eggs, while she as eagerly and courage- 
ously protects them. Sometimes she pursues the 
marauders to the extremity of the comb, while, in 
the meantime, others, watching the oj)portunity, steal 
upon the cell and carry off the eggs. As soon as she 
has made her deposit, therefore, she carefully seals 
up the cell, and takes her station on the cover, fre- 
quently wheeling her body round, as if to defend her 
progeny, and doggedly keeping guard for six or 
eight hours. If she can withstand their voracity for 



248 HUMBLE-BEES. 

that period, success attends her exertions, for it is 
only in its first stage that the egg is sought after by the 
workers. 

In four or five days tlie eggs are hatched. The lar- 
vae, which differ from those of the hive-bee in having 
their sides marked by irregular transverse black spots, 
feed primarily on the magazines previously deposited 
beside them, and are afterwards supplied by the work- 
ers, till they begin to spin their cocoons. In this 
operation, each larva separates itself from the group 
to which it has hitherto been attached, forming a 
lodgement for itself under the roof of the same roomy 
apartment where it had lived in society. Males and 
females are bred in the same cell and fed in the same 
manner, and the cocoons of both are seen mingled 
together. It may seem difficult to comprehend how, 
in a cell of such small dimensions, the larvae can find 
room to grow, and separately to spin their cocoons. 
The fact is, the cells acquire, in the meantime, a 
great addition in point of dimensions. As the inmates 
increase in size, the lateral pressure of their bodies 
bursts the slender walls of the cell, and the workers 
instantly set about repairing the rent, which they do, 
not by bringing the edges together, but by placing a 
large patch upon it, the full extent of the opening, 
and, of course, augmenting by so much the capacity 
of the cell. A succession of rents, caused by the 
growth of each of the larvae, is followed by a suc- 
cession of patches and additions, till, at last, the cell 
is augmented to four or five times its original size ; 
and, as the operators by no means resemble their 



COMMON HUMBLE-BEE. 2-1-9 

fellow workers of the liive in the neatness of their 
work, the several patches adhering to the outside of 
the cells contribute much to the rough and clumsy 
appearance which the interior of the nest exhibits. 

In fifteen days the bee arrives at its perfect state ; 
its body has become hardened, and is covered with 
a greyish down, which, on being exposed to the 
light, assumes a diversity of colours. It gnaws 
through its prison-walls, assisted by its fellows ; and 
in a quarter of an hour from the commencement of 
its exertions, it emerges from its cradle, leaves its 
nest, and takes its first flight into the fields in search 
of honey. Its deserted habitation has now the form 
of a truncated cone, and is made a receptacle for 
provisions. As her progeny gradually increases in 
numbers, the mother-bee relaxes in her labours ; 
she leaves to them the lining of the walls and roof 
of the nest with a thin membrane of wax ; and 
though she occasionally lends her aid in the con- 
struction of cells, it is only to give the finishing 
polish to what the workers have already " rough- 
hewn." 

The inmates of an humble-bee nest are, as has 
been stated, of three classes : females, males, and 
workers. The old female, we have said, is alone in 
spring. In May, the eggs which she has laid, have 
been hatched, and produce workers only ; the females 
and males of the community do not appear till later, 
— none sooner than June, and the greatest number 
in July. The males have the advantage of the hive- 
drone in point of usefulness to the community ; for 



250 HUMBLE-BEES. 

though they do not burthen themselves with the task 
of collecting provisions, they bear their part in secret- 
ing wax. Like the hive-drones, they have no sting ; 
but they are exempted from the severe fate of the 
former, in escaping the cruel, massacre to which those 
are doomed. They are suffered to live, and enjoy 
the natural term of their existence, which, however, 
extends not beyond the end of Autumn. On the 
first approach of cold weather, they exhibit evident 
symptoms of decreasing activity. On alighting on 
the flowers of any of the late blossoming plants, — 
as the sun-flower, thistle, &c. ; the intoxicating 
juices concur with the diminished temperature in 
rendering them utterly helpless, and incapable of 
saving themselves from danger, and their languor 
increases till the severity of the cold benumbs them 
altogether, and life becomes extinct. The workers 
are not all neuters. Many of them bred in spring, 
copulate with the males in June, and lay eggs soon 
after, but only those of males. These males fecundate 
those females which are reared towards the end 
of the season, but which do not begin to lay till the 
following spring, when they each lay the foundation 
of a new colony. At the approach of winter, that 
is, the first winter of their existence, they, the females 
viz. to the number of 30 or 40 together, make a 
lodgement in or near the old nest, where they pass 
the torpid season in safety and quiet, till the return 
of spring awakes them to life and activity, and 
natural instinct prompts them to disperse, and seek 
each a dwelling of her own. The old mother, the 



COMMON IIUJilBLE-BEE. 251 

males, and the workers, all perish before the cold 
season arrives. 

M. P. Huber, to whom we are indebted for many 
of the foregoing facts, relates a very interesting 
anecdote of the instinctive resourses of this insect. 
While carrying on an experiment respecting the 
elaboration of wax, he placed apiece of brood-comb 
with a dozen bees under a bell glass, taking away 
from them every particle of wax, and furnishing 
them with farina only. The comb, from the irregu- 
larity of its shape, did not rest steadily on the table; 
and when the bees mounted on it, to impart the 
necessary warmth to the brood, its rocking motion 
seemed to annoy them extremely. They had no 
wax wherewith to remedy the evil ; but their in- 
stinct, and their intense affection for their young 
supplied an ingenious expedient. A few of them 
mounted the comb, and letting their bodies down 
towards its lower edge, suspended themselves from 
it, head downwards, by the hooks of their hinder 
feet; and with those of the second pair of legs which 
are very long, laid hold on the table, and thus steadied 
the mass by the mere force of muscular strength. 
(PI. VIII. fig. 4.) In this posture they remained 
till relieved by others, the mother herself lending 
her aid ; and they continued the painful task for 
two or three days. In the mean time, some honey 
with which they had at length been supplied, fur- 
nished them with the means of producing wax, with 
which they immediately set about constructing pillars, 
having their bases resting on the table^ and support- 



252 HUMBLE-BEES. 

ing the comb. They were thus reHeved from their 
toil ; but it was only for a short period ; for the 
wax getting soon dry, the pillars gave way ; and the 
harassed insects were again subjected to the weary 
task of propping up the tottering edifice by their 
bodily exertions, when M. Huber took pity on them, 
and glued the comb firmly to the table. 

LAPIDARY OR RED-TAILED BEE. 

(BOMBUS LAPIDARIUS.) 

Plate XVL Figs. 1,2. 
Apis lapidaria, Linn. — Donov. iii, 97, PL 108, fig. 1, and xi, 

69, PI. 385, fig. 1 Kirhy's Monog. Apum, ii. 364 

Orange-tailed Bee, Bingley^ iii. 290 Ap. audens, Harris 

Expos. 130, PI. 38, fig. 2 ; PI. 40, fig. 12 ; PI. 40, fig. 

15 Ap. arbustonim, Fab A. strenuus, Harris'' Eocpos. 

xxxviii. fig. 5. 

This handsome species receives its specific name 
from its habit of forming its nest among loose heaps 
of stones; occasionally, however, it burrows in the 
earth like the species last described. The female 
(fig. 2.) is of considerable size, having' nearly the 
whole body of a deep velvetty black clothed with 
long soft hairs : mouth fringed with red hairs ; thorax 
entirely black ; abdomen with the three last segments 
red. The wings are shorter than the body, almost 
clear and transparent, the apex a little obscured, and 
the nervures black ; legs deep black, the hairs of 
the tarsi reddish. The male (fig. 1.) is of smaller 
dimensions, having the thorax lemon-yellow behind, 
black on the middle, and pale yellow in front ; the 
forehead with a patch of lemon-yellow; legs with 



LAPIDARY OR ORANGE-TAILED BEE. 253 

rufescent hairs, palest on the thighs ; underside of 
the body flavescent. Varieties occur nearly one half 
smaller than the ordinary length, which often exceeds 
ten lines. 

This is likewise a common bee, not only in Britain, 
but in most other parts of Europe. It frequents 
flowers throughout the summer, and is partial to 
hilly pastures and imperfectly cultivated places. It 
stores up honey with great assiduity — strenue melli- 
ficanSi is Linnseus's expression — and it defends it, as 
most schoolboys can testify, with no small zeal and 
pertinacity. Its colonies are not so populous as those 
of B. terrestris, but they are more so than the asso- 
ciations of B. muscorum. Owing to the great diffe- 
rence in the markings, the male has been mistaken 
by Fabricius and others for a separate species, which 
he named B. arbustorum. 

MOSS OR CARDER BEE. 

{BOM BUS MUSCORUM.) 

Plate XVI. Fig. 3. 

Api3 muscorum, Linn. — Donov. xi. 70, PI. 382, fig. 2 

Kirby's Monog. Ap. ii. 317 A. senilis, Fab — A. impavidus, 

melleus and melinus, Harris' Eoepos. Pis. 38 and 40. — 
The Cording Bee, Bingley, iii. 288. 

Usually rather a smaller insect than either of the 
preceding, although the females sometimes attain the 
length of ten lines. The general colour of the whole 
body is pale yellow, the hirsuties rather long ; probos- 
cis the length of the thorax, (it is represented in the 
accompanying fig. with the parts extended and sepa- 



254 HUMBLE-BEES. 

ratedj tlie latter clothed with reddish yellow or 
golden coloured hairs ; ahdomen triangular, the hir- 
suties fulvous; wings slightly tinged with brown,, 
the nervures black ; legs likewise black, the thighs 
densely bearded with yellow hairs. The abdomen of 
the male is narrower than that of the female, and 
has some dark coloured down at the extremit}'. 
Varies in size, and in having the hirsuties of the 
thorax dark brown, or so pale, as to approach cine- 
reous ; the latter hue sometimes occasioned by age. 
Of frequent occurrence in all the temperate regions 
of Europe. It is known in Scotland as the Foggie 
or Moss-bee. Its nest is quite upon the surface, 
and, consisting merely of a little dome of moss, it 
falls an easy prey to every kind of marauder. The 
following is Reaumur's account, as abridged by Kirby, 
of its plan of operations; but he seems either to 
overlook the fact, that at the usual period of forming 
the nest, the female is the sole architect and practical 
builder, or his description applies to the formation of 
the nest at a more advanced period of the season, 
after the original one may have been by some means 
destroyed, and when the population has multiplied. 
After stating that they cover their dwelling with a 
thick vault or coping of moss, he continues : " The 
mode in which they transport the moss they use is 
singular. When they have discovered a parcel of it 
conveniently situated, they place themselves upon it 
with their anus towards the spot to which they mean 
to convey it. They then take a small portion, and 
with their maxillee and forelegs^ as it were card and 



MOSS OR CARDER BEE. 255 

comb it; when the pieces are sufficiently disen- 
tangled, they are placed under the body by the first 
pair of legs ; the intermediate pair receives them 
and delivers them to the last, which pushes them as 
far as possible beyond the anus. When by this pro- 
cess the insect has formed behind it a small mass of 
moss well carded, then either the same or another 
who takes her turn in the business, pushes it nearer 
to the nest. Thus small heaps of moss are conveyed to 
its foot ; and in a similar manner they are elevated 
to its summit, or where they may be most wanted. 
A file of four or five insects is occupied at the same 
time in this employment." 

DONOVAN^S HUMBLE-BEE. 

{BOMBUS DONOVANELLUS.) 

Plate XVII. Fig. 1. 
Apis Donovaaella, Kirby^s Monog. Ap. ii. 357, PI. 18, fig. 6. 

The length of this insect very little exceeds seven 
lines ; the prevailing colour black, all the parts very 
hirsute ; head and antennae black ; the mouth with 
reddish hairs ; thorax black, M'ith a dense patch of 
lemon-yellow hairs in front in the female, but ob- 
scure in the male ; abdomen between triangular and 
globose, the base with a broad light-yellow band, 
then a black one, the three last segments red ; legs 
black ; wings tinged with dusky-brown. 

This species is named in honour of the late Mr. 
Donovan, whose extensive works, containing accur- 
ate delineations both of British and foreign insects, 
as well as of other animals, have tended greatly to 
* Reaumur's Mem. torn. vi. 



2.56 HUMBLE-BEES. 

promote tlie study of natural history in this country. 
It is rather a scarce insect, and approaches near to 
B. suhinterruptus ; hut, as Kirby remarks, the wings 
a'i-e darker, the abdomen shorter and wider, with the 
black band much narrower ; the red hairs of the 
anus of a deeper colour, and occupying three seg- 
ments. 

HARRIS' HUMBLE-BEE. 

(BOMBUS HARRISELLUS.) 

Plate XVIII. Fig. 1. 
ApisHarrisella, KirbfsMonog. Ap. ii. 373, PI. 18, fig. 8, fig. 7. 

This species differs from all that we have hitherto 
described, in being wholly deep-black, the mouth 
alone with a few ferruginous hairs. The wings are 
slightly tinged with yellowish-brown, becoming some- 
what obscure at the apex, the nervures blackish. 

Found occasionally in the south of England ; the 
male more frequently than the female. 

BOMBUS GRANDIS. 
Plate XVII. Fig. 2. 

This figure represents the largest species of Bombus 
hitherto discovered, drawn by Mr. Westwood from 
a specimen in the collection of the Rev. F. W. Hope. 
It has not yet been described, and is known only by 
a figure in Guerin's Iconographie du Regno Animal, 
Insectes, PI. 75^ fig. 3. The whole upper side is 
a uniform fulvous colour ; the region of the eyes, 
the mouth, and antennae, black ; the whole of the 
underside is likewise black, and the legs of the same 
colour ; wings tinged with yellowish-brown ; the 



BOMBUS GRANDIS. 257 

nervures black. Length about an inch and a quarter : 
expansion of the wings two inches and a quarter. 
It is a native of Valparaiso. 

APATHUS VESTALIS. 

Plate XVIIL Fig. 2. 

Apis vestalis, Kirhy''s Monog. Ap. ii. 347, PI. 18, fig. 4, — fig. 3. 

— Donov. xiii. Go, PL 464 Bombus vestalis, Stephen's 

Catal. — Psithyrus vestalis, «S'^. Fargeau, Curtis. 

The peculiarities on which this genus is founded, 
were pointed out, to a certain extent, by Kirby, but 
he did not avail himself of them to separate the 
•group from the true humble-bees. In fact, there is 
such a strikino; general resemblance between the 
Apathi and Bombi, that such a separation appears at 
first sight to be doing violence to natural affinity. 
But the principal mark of distinction, the want of a 
brush {corhicula) for collecting masses of pollen, is a 
most important one, and might have been expected 
to influence materially the whole mode of life. 
There seems now to be no doubt, that the Apathi 
never attempt to build a nest of any kind, or to 
make any provision for their young, but deposit their 
eggs in the nests of other bees, into which they find 
access apparently without being suspected of any im- 
proper design. The larvae produced by these surrep- 
titious eggs being stronger than the rightful owners, 
consume the food provided for them. They undergo 
their various changes in the same appropriated home. 
This practice is known to prevail among many other 
kinds of bees, not, however, very closely resembling 

B 



258 FALSE HUMBLE-BEES. 

humble-bees (such as the genera Coelioxys, Melecta, 
Epeolus, &:c.) which are therefore called Cuckoo-bees. 
The Apathi may be appropriately designated by the 
name oi False Humble-bees. A. Campestris, A. Bar- 
butellus, A. VestaliSj and A. Rupestris, are among 
our indigenous examples ; and there are doubtless 
many foreign kinds, of which we have received as yet 
no satisfactory account. 

The term Psithyrus was formerly proposed for 
this genus, but that having been previously employed 
in another branch of Zoology, Mr. Newman has sup- 
planted it by that used above, which signifies, with- 
out affection (privative a and ira^og affectio.) The 
characters may be briefly given as follows : Labium 
forming an obtuse angle anteriorly ; posterior tibiae 
convex above, neither provided with an apparatus 
for carrying pollen, nor with an auricle at the base 
of the planta; abdomen oblong, the anal segment 
dilated into an angle on both sides. 

A. vestalis is rather a large insect, measuring from 
seven to nine lines. The female is black and hirsute ; 
the head subglobose ; the thorax with a yellow band 
anteriorly ; abdomen oblong, inclining to globose, in- 
curved at the extremity, the third segment yellow at 
the margin on both sides, the whole of the fourth 
and the sides of the fifth whitish, the anal one 
smooth, and curved inwards. In the male, (fig. 2,) 
the posterior fascia is broad and whitish, the ex- 
tremity itself with a patch of black hairs ; wings a 
little dusky ; the apex and the larger nervures nearly 
black ; legs black. 



APATHUS VESTALIS. 259 

Found occasionally near London, and in otlier 
parts of England, first appearing pretty early in the 
spring. It is said to fly for the most part near the 
earth. 

APATHUS RUPESTRIS. 
Plate XVIII, Fig. 3. 

Apis nipestris, Fab. Kirby''s Monog. Ap. ii. 369 Apis lapi- 

daria, Var. Brunn. Prodrom. Insedol. Sieland^ PI. 19. — Apis 
subterranea, Geoff. Hist. Ins. 2, PI. 416, n. 20. 

The resemblance of this false humble-bee to B. la- 
pidarius is so great, that it is not sm'prising they have 
been frequently confounded. The present species 
measures fully an inch in length, so that it must be 
regarded as the largest of our indigenous bees. The 
body is entirely black, the three last segments of the 
abdomen clothed with yellowish-red hairs. The 
head and thorax are very hirsute, the abdomen like- 
wise very hirsute on the sides, but more sparingly 
clothed on the back ; shape of the abdomen ovate- 
oblong ; legs black and hairy ; wings ample, longer 
than the body, the colour smoke brown, approaching 
to black, and the substance intermediate between 
corium and membrane. 

Frequent in the vicinity of London, and also in 
many other parts of England, but seemingly not 
generally distributed. We have noticed it in Scot- 
land, but only on one or two occasions. 



260 



FOREIGN BEES. 

Besides the A_pis Melli/ica, or common domestic 
bee of Europe, and the genera Bombus and Apatkus, 
or humble-bees in their several species,, there are 
numerous other kinds of the social Apidae to be met 
with in different and distant regions of the earth, of 
v/hich some notice may be acceptable to our readers. 
We must premise, however, that the present state 
of our knowledge of this portion of natural history 
is very imperfect and unsatisfactory, drawn, as it 
must necessarily be, from the accounts of travellers, 
to whom it was a subject of very inferior interest, 
and whose descriptions of the insects are generally 
so indistinct, that it is nearly impossible to determine 
to what families they respectively belong. But 
before proceeding to give some account of the bees 
domesticated in different parts of the world, which 
in general are pretty nearly related to the Honey 
Bee, it may not be improper to make our readers 
acquainted with a few interesting exotic forms which 
claim a closer affinity to the tribe last treated of. 
The genus Euglossa, to which we shall first advert, 
has many properties in common with the Humble 
Bees. As in them the hinder tibiae terminate in two 
spines, and the females are provided with a spoon- 
shaped expansion for collecting honey. They differ 
from Bombus and Anathus in having the labrum 



EUGLOSSA SURINAMENSIS. 261 

square, the false proboscis nearly as long as the 
body, and the labial pulpi terminating in a point 
formed by the two last joints.* All the species are 
exotic, and apparently confined to South America. 
Several of them are nearly glabrous, (such as E. 
dentata, and cordata,) in this respect deviating mate- 
rially from the external aspect usually associated 
with the peculiar structure which they exhibit. 

EUGLOSSA SURINAMENSIS. 

Plate XIX. Fig 1. 

Apis Surinamensis, Linn Abeille a ventre jaune, De Geer, 

torn, iii, PI. 28, fig. 9 — Centris Surin. Fab. Drury''s Eocot, 
Ins. PI. 43, fig. 4. — Euglossa Surin. Latr. Gen. Crust, et 
insect. Zool. Humb. et Bomp. PI. 17, fig. 12. 

This species has been long known, as the above 
synon}'ms indicate. It is rather a small insect, the 
accompanying figure representing it a little enlarged. 
The body is black, and clothed with a short very 
dense hirsuties ; head and antennae black, the tongue 
extending backwards as far as the middle of the 
abdomen ; eyes brown ; thorax black j the wings 
tinged with clear brown ; nervures black ; abdomen 
with the basal segment black, the remainder ochre- 
yellow, appearmg as if gilded ; the black colour on 
the underside of the abdomen extends to the middle ; 
legs black, the tibise and radical joint of the tarsus 
in the hinder pair broad and flat. 

Inhabits Surinam, Xalapa in New Spain, and 
other parts of South America. 

* Cuvier, Regne Anim. v. 357. 



262 FOREIGN BEES. 

EUGLOSSA ANALIS. 

Plate XIX. Fig. 2. 

The figure referred to represents a small and very 
brilliant Euglossa, which we have the pleasure of 
figuring and describing for the first time. In length 
it is not quite half an inch, and the wings expand 
about three quarters of an inch. The head and 
thorax on the upper side are punctured, and of an 
intense rich blue ; the clypeus at the sides, labrum 
and mandibles white ; underside of the thorax rich 
green ; the surface of the abdomen is finely and 
closely punctured, the colour purple, the terminal 
segments being brilliant golden-green, especially on 
the underside ; the wings are slightly stained with 
brown ; the second submarginal cell receives the 
first recurrent nerve ; the second recurrent nerve 
being confluent with the nerve which closes the third 
submarginal cell posteriorly ; the legs are rich blue 
and shining, the anterior tarsi with long white pile ; 
the posterior tibise are very broad, compressed and 
punctured, having an impression on the upper edge 
in the middle, from which an impressed line extends 
parallel with the edge nearly to the tip ; the basal 
joint of the tarsi is broadly triangular and com- 
pressed. 

This beautiful insect is from the collection of the 
Rev. F. W. Hope, and is a native of Brazil. It is 
related to the Cnemidium viride of Perty {Del. 
animal, artic, Brasilice, PI. 28, fig. 9.) 



AGLAE CAERULEA. 263 

AGLAE CAERULEA. 
Plate XIX. Fig. 3. 

Aglad caerulea, Encydop. Methodique Chriffiths Ctivier, In- 

secta, vol. ii. PL 107. 

This group, peculiar, like the former, to South 
America, was separated from Euglossa by M.M. 
Lepeletier and Serville. The antennae are long and 
filiform, inserted in a frontal cavity, consisting of 
twelve joints in the female and thirteen in the male ; 
labial palpi four-jointed ; ocelli three ; scutellum 
depressed, the sides prolonged behind into two spini- 
form projections. The species are probably parasi- 
tical, for they are destitute of the apparatus requisite 
for collecting pollen. The species represented may 
be regarded as the type. It is a large insect com- 
pared with the generality of its associates, of a violet 
blue colour, very glossy, and covered, though not 
very thickly, with black hairs ; antennae black ; sides 
of the abdomen, which bear tufts of hair, brownish ; 
wings likewise of that colour with a slight golden 
reflection ; labrum and scutellum very glossy. 
It is a native of Cayenne. 

CENTRIS NOBILIS. 
Plate XX. Fig. 1. 
Centris has the antennae filiform in both sexes, of 
twelve joints in the female and thirteen in the male ; 
the third joint always slender throughout its whole 
length but suddenly enlarged at the tip ; mandibles 
with four teeth on the inner edge ; maxillary palpi 



264 FOBEIGN BEES. 

very slender, and consisting of four joints, which is 
likewise the case with the labial pair ; spines of the 
hinder legs pectinated on the inner side. 

To exemplify this genus we have represented a 
new and splendid species from the collection of the 
Rev. F. W. Hope, which, on account of its large 
size and vivid colours, Mr. Westwood has named C. 
nobilis. It is of an intense black, clothed with very 
short velvet-like plush; the three terminal segments 
of the abdomen brick-red, and the wings black, with 
an exceedingly brilliant purple gloss; the length is 
about thirteen lines; expanse of the wings nearly 
two inches ; the second submarginal cell receives the 
first recurrent nerve, and the second recurrent nerve 
is confluent with the nerve which closes the third 
submarginal cell ; the hind legs are extremely hirsute, 
with two long and acute tibial calcaria, both denti- 
culated, but one more strongly than the other; the 
upper lip is triangular; the mandibles with four 
teeth, the two inferior ones strongest and obtuse ; 
the maxillary palpi short, very slender, and four- 
jointed. 

Locality doubtful; but in all probability South 
America. 

CENTRIS GROSSA. 

Plate XX. Fig. 2. 

Apis Grossa, Drury. — Centris Grossa, Drury''s Exot. Ins. 
( Westwood's ed.) i. PI. 45, fig. 3. 

Head bluish-black, with a mixture of green; antennae 
black ; thorax of a dark golden green, inclining to 



CENTRIS GKOSSA. 265 

bluC;, very glossy, notwithstanding a few scattered 
black hairs ; abdomen nearly of the same brilliant 
hue as the thorax ; the underside with a greater 
mixture of blue ; legs black and hairy ; wungs brown. 
A native of Jamaica ; nearly allied to Centris 
versicolor of Fabricius, which also inhabits the west 
Indian Islands. 

XYLOCOPA VIOLACEA. 

Plate XX. Fig. 3. 

Fab. Reaumur, Donov. Indian Insects. 

This genus contains a very conspicuous group of 
insects, somewhat resembling humble-bees, but their 
colours are much darker, and never distributed in 
bands ; the body much flatter, and the whole contour 
different. The wings are usually very dark, and reflect 
brilliant tints of violet and copper ; and although the 
body is in most cases black, it often presents a fine 
play of purple or green. The eyes are large, and some- 
times approximating behind, but always rather distant 
from each other; head narrower than the thorax, broad 
and depressed ; proboscis rather short ; exterior palpi 
six-jointed ; interior two-jointed ; antennae strongly 
geniculated ; upper wings with three complete cubital 
cells, the first intersected by a slender transparent line, 
the secofid triangular, the third largest, and receiving 
the two recurrent nervures. Nearly all of them 
are extra-European and inhabiting the very warmest 
regions. Among the few exceptions to this, is the 
species referred to above which occurs in various parts 
of Europe, and naturalists accordingly have often 



260 FOREIGN BEES. 

had opportunities of observing its habits. The best 
account is that given by Reaumur, of which we shall 
therefore introduce an abridgement, premising that 
the insect is entirely of a black colour, the wings 
deeply tinted with violet, and the male having a 
reddish ring at the extremity of the antennae. 

" The mother-bee usually makes her appearance 
early in the year, as soon as winter is over. She may 
then be met with in gardens, visiting such walls as are 
covered with trees trained upon trellis work, in a 
warm sunny aspect. When once she has begun to 
make her appearance, she frequently returns, and 
during a long period ; and she may always be known 
by her size, and her hum, which much resembles that 
of the Bombinatrices. The object of her earlier visits 
is to fix upon a pifce of wood proper for her purposes. 
She usually selects the putrescent uprights of arbours, 
espaliers, or the props of vines ; but sometimes she 
will attack garden seats, thick doors, and window 
shutters ; the piece that she chooses is usually cylind- 
rical, and perpendicular to the horizon. Her strong 
maxillee are the instruments she employs in boring 
it ; beginning on one side for a little way she points 
her course obliquely downwards, and then forwards 
in a direction parallel with its sides, till she has bored 
a tunnel of from twelve to fifteen inches in length, 
and seven or eight lines in diameter. A passage is 
left where she enters or first begins to bore, and 
another at the other end of the pipe. As the indus- 
trious animal proceeds in her employment, she clears 
away the wood that she detaches, throwing it out upon 



.JL_ 



XYLOCOPA VIOLACEA. 2G7 

the ground, where it appears like a small heap of saw- 
dust. Thus, we see, she has prepared a long cylinder 
in the middle of the wood, sheltered from the weather 
and external injuries, and jfit for her purposes. But 
how is she to divide it into cells ? what materials can 
she employ for making the jfloors and ceilings of her 
miniature apartments? Why, truly, God Moth instruct 
her to discretion, and doth teach her !' The saw-dust, 
just mentioned, is at hand, and this supplies her with 
all that she wants to make this part of her mansion 
complete. Beginning at the bottom of the cylinder 
she deposits an egg, and then lays in a store of pollen, 
mixed with honey, sufficient for the nutriment of the 
little animal it is to produce. At the height of seven 
or eight lines, which is the depth of each cell, she 
next constructs, of particles of the saw-dust glued 
together, and also to the sides of the tunnel, what 
may be called an annular stage or scaffolding. When 
this is sufficiently hardened, its anterior edge affijrds 
a support for a second ring of the same materials, and 
thus the celling is gradually formed of these concentric 
circles, till there remains only a small orifice in its 
centre ; and this is also filled up with a circular mass 
of agglutinated particles of the saw-dust. This par- 
tition exhibits the appearance of as many concentric 
circles 5s the animal has made joinings, and is about 
the thickness of a French crown-piece ; it serves for 
the ceiling of the lower, and the floor of the upper 
apartment. One cell being completed, she proceeds to 
another, which she furnishes and finishes in the same 
manner; and so on till she has divided her whole tun- 
nel into apartments, which are usually about twelve. 



268 FOREIGN BEES. 

The larvae and pupte do not differ materially from 
tliose of other bees. When the former assumes the 
pupa it is placed in its cell with the head downwards — 
a very wise precaution, for thus it is prevented^ when 
it has attained its perfect state, and is eager to emerge 
into day, from making its way out upwards, and 
disturbing the tenants of the superincumbent cells, 
who being of later date each than its neighbour below 
stairs, are not yet quite ready to go into public." 

XYLOCOPA TEREDO. 

Plate XXI. Fig. 1, Male,_Fig. 2, Female. 

Xylocopa Teredo, Linn. Trans. XIV. p. 314. 

For a knowledge of the habits and sexual distinctions* 
of this species we are indebted to the assiduous and 
indefatigable Lansdowne Guilding, whose account 
was published in the fourteenth volume of the Lin- 
naean Society's Transactions. It does not differ much 
in its economy from the species last described. It 
takes up its abode in dead trunks of trees, piercing 
into the interior in a horizontal direction, and then 
forming longitudinal excavations. Its little nests are 
very numerous, and placed without any order. Be- 
ginning at the bottom, the female fills each little cell 
with pollen, mixed with honey, and deposits an e^g 
in it. The larva which proceeds from this egg is 
apodal, naked, and whitish, much attenuated towards 
the head, which is very small, and of an ochreous 
yellow colour ; the mandibles rust-red, the spiracles 
likewise red. The pupa is ochre-yellow, the thorax 
anteriorly armed with two spines. 

The dissimilarity of the sexes is so great, as to 



XYLOCOPA TEREDO. 269 

lead us to apprehend that several of the kinds of 
Xylocopae, now regarded as distmct species, may ulti- 
mately prove identical, when we obtain as correct 
information regarding them as we possess in the pre- 
sent instance. The male (fig. 1,) is entirely tawn}^- 
yellow . on the upper side, and blackish beneath ; 
wings rather pale yellow, antennae yellow on the 
under side,, legs likewise tawny, the hairs of the 
two anterior pair paler yellow. The female (fig. 2,) 
is deep black, the wings broad and of a brassy hue, 
with purple reflections. The difference between the 
sexes is not confined to colour, but extends likewise 
to form. The male is comparatively slender, the 
thorax oblong, and the head small ; the female has a 
very large head, and an orbicular thorax, the whole 
body appearing short and massive. These differences 
appear more conspicuous in Mr. Westwood's drawings, 
from which the accompanying engraving is taken, 
than in Mr. Guilding's figures ; but Mr. Westwood's 
are carefully drawn from Guilding's own series of 
specimens, which are now in the possession of the 
Rev. F. W. Hope, so that no d« ubt can possibly at- 
tach to the identity of the insects. It may be said 
that the evidence from which thoy are inferred to be 
the sexes of one species is not absolutely conclusive, 
for no one has ever witnessed their union ; but Mr. 
Guilding constantly found both of them in company, 
frequenting the same holes, the dark individuals being 
invariably females, and the other males, which affords 
so strong a presumption in favour of the opinion 
he formed, that little doubt on the subject can 



270 FOREIGN BEES. 

be reasonably entertained. This dissimilarity of 
the sexes is important to be noticed, on account 
of the difficulty of determining such exotic species of 
Xylocopse as are closely related to each other. The 
propriety of giving Xylocopa Moris Fab. as a synonym 
of the female of the insect in question, or Apis Bra- 
silianorum as that of the male, as Mr. Guilding has 
done, is extremely questionable. Mr. Westwood, 
whose opinion is of so much value on a point of this 
kind, has scarcely a doubt that the Xylocopa Chrys- 
optera of Latreille (Humboldt's South Amer. Zool. 
PI. XXXVIII. fig. 1,) is the female of X. Brasilian- 
orum. 

XYLOCOPA CORNIGER. 
Plate XXI. Fig. 3. 

This figure represents a very large, nondescript, and 
unique species of Xylocopa, from the collection of the 
Rev. F. W. Hope. Mr. Westvv^ood, to whom we are 
indebted for a beautiful drawing of it, proposes to 
name it X. Corniger, on account of two short strong 
horns upon the back part of the head, a character 
which does not occur in any other known species of 
the genus. 

It is entirely black and shining, the upper surface 
of the thorax and abdomen being entirely destitute of 
hairs. The front of the head is broad, and bears two 
oblique elevated shining ridges above the mouth, and 
between the posterior part of the eyes are two short 
thick horns. The abdomen is long and depressed, 
with fascicles of black hairs on the sides and extre- 
mity. The wings are black and very glossy, with a 



XYLOCOPA CORNIGER. 271 

rich violet blue tint at the base,, which alters slightly 
to greenish near the middle, and this is shaded off to 
coppery brown at the tips. 

The locality is unfortunately unknown ; it is pro- 
bably Africa. 

XYLOCOPA {PLATYNOPODA, WEST.) 

TENUISCAPA. 

Plate XXIII. Fig. 2. 

This figure represents a species very closely related 
to X. latipes, and the existence of another with 
greatly dilated tarsi renders it expedient to propose 
a distinct section or subgenus for their reception, 
which Mr. Westwood has accordingly done under 
the above name. In addition to the peculiarity just 
noted, the males have the eyes approximating at the 
hinder part of the head. The near resemblance of 
this insect to X. latipes will at once appear from 
comparison. (For this purpose X. latipes is figured 
on the same plate, fig. 1.) The distinctive marks 
may be embodied in the following short specific 
character : — X. tenui&capa, W. ; black, somewhat 
shining ; the first joint of the antennae not dilated at 
the apex, which is scarcely thicker than the base ; 
eyes not widely apart behind ; the second, third, and 
fourth joints of the anterior tarsi with a rather short 
brush on their inner edge ; wings very glossy, violet 
at the base, and tinged with copper at the tip ; 
length Ij-^Q inch, expansion of the wings 2^ inches. 

As this handsome species is now figured for the 
first time, it will be necessary, for the satisfaction of 



272 FOREIGN BEES. 

entomologists^ to describe it more in detail. In its 
general form it is broad and depressed, the colour 
shining black, the abdomen being duller than the 
thorax, the latter clothed in front with short black 
hairs, and the sides and extremity of the abdomen 
are fringed with longer hairs of the same colom\ The 
eyes are of a dull white, and approaching each other 
at the hinder part of the head, but separated by a 
considerably wider space than those of X. latipes. 
Antennas black, the basal joint not dilated as in the 
species just named ; legs black, clothed with long 
hair, the anterior tarsi of a dirty white colour, the 
basal joint very thin, flat, and broad, (but not so di- 
lated as in X. latipes,) and furnished, especially on 
the outer edge, with a thick brush of brown hairs, 
the terminal joints flat and brown, with a similar 
brush on the outer margin, the brush on the inner 
margin of these joints being much shorter and thicker 
than' in X. latipes. The wings are nearly opaque at 
the base, but become gradually more transparent at 
the tips ; the former portion with an intense violet 
gloss, which is gradually shaded off to a coppery 
green.""' (In X. latipes the wings have a green gloss 
at the base, which is shaded off into a purple 
bronze.) The clypeus is black, with the exception 
of a very minute pale spot on each side, close to 
the base of the mandibles. 

This species is from India, and the individual figured 

* Mr. Westwood is of opinion that the colour of the gloss 
of the wing affords a very good, although hitherto neglected, 
specific character in this difficult genus. 



XYLOCOPA TENUISCAPA. 273 

is preserved in the collection of the Rev. F. W. Hope. 
X. latipes is likewise an eastern insect. "According 
to Mr. Smeathman, these bees are very injurious to 
wooden houses, the posts of which they bore and 
perforate in various directions, so as to weaken them 
very much ; the holes they make are half an inch 
in diameter. Drury hazards the conjecture, that the 
curiously dilated anterior tarsi, and the long hairs 
with which they are furnished, appear to be useful to 
the creature for containing the substance of which 
these insects compose their nests. This, however, 
is but mere conjecture, since it is the males only that 
possess this curious construction, and this sex takes 
no share in the construction or provisioning of the 
nest in any species of bees with whose economy we 
are hitherto acquainted."* 

Having given these details respecting foreign 
species, most of them bearing some affinity to the 
Bombinatrices, we now return to the kinds more 
closely related to the Hive-Bee, w^hich alone have 
been subjected to an assured domestication. In 
Europe we have tA^o distinct species of domestic 
honey-bees. Besides the one commonly cultivated, 
viz., the Aj)is mellifica, which has extended itself 
over the greater part of the European Continent, is 
met with even in Barbary, and has now been natu- 
ralized in the extensive wastes and prairies of North 
America, — the Apis Ligustica of Spinola, A. Ligu- 
rienne of Latreille, (See PI. XXIV.,) is cultivated 
with success in Italy, and is probably the same 
* Drury '8 Illiist., Westwood's ed., vol. ji. p. 98. 
s 



27-i FOREIGN BEES. 

species that is found in the Grecian Archipelago. 
In its physical characters it nearly resembles our 
own hive-bee; the difference consists in the two 
first rings of the abdomen, (except at their posterior 
edge) and the base of the third, being of a pale red- 
dish colour, instead of a deep brown. 

The continent of Africa, in all its widely extended 
regions, seems well stocked with bees, particularly 
towards the sea-coast. In lower Egypt their cultiva- 
tion forms the employment of many of the poorer 
classes during a great part of the year. During the 
inundation of the Nile, the cultivators, unable to find 
pasturage for their bee- stocks in the lower province, 
transport them in boats to upper Egypt, resting 
occasionally by the way, to allow the industrious in- 
sects an opportunity to forage — and thus they reap 
a double harvest. The insect itself, supposed to be 
the A. Fasciata of Latreille, bears a considerable re- 
semblance to that cultivated in Greece. On the 
western coast, where it is intersected by the Senegal, 
separated as this region is from the more northerly 
parts of Africa by mountains and deserts which form 
an insuperable barrier to the passage of the inferior 
classes of animals, we find what we are assured is 
another species of bees, viz., A. Adansonii. It has, 
however, a very near resemblance to A. Ligustica ; 
its difference being in the two first rings of the ab- 
domen, and the anterior half of the third, which are 
of a pale chestnut colour. In the neighbourhood of 
the Gambia, a species of small black bees is found in 
the woods — -jn all likelihood the same with those 



FOREIGN BEES. 275 

last mentioned ; and the town of Vintain, situated 
on the southern side of the river, is much resorted to 
by Europeans on account of the great quantities of 
bees-wax brought thither for sale. It is collected in 
the woods by the Feloops, a wild and unsociable mce 
of people. The honey they chiefly use themselves 
in making a strong intoxicating liquor, much the 
same as the mead which is produced from honey in 
Britain.* It is said by some writers that the bees 
along the west coast of Africa are destitute of stings. 
It was not so found by Park, to whom we are in- 
debted for the above information ; and that those 
farther in the interior, about the 11th deg. of west 
long, are well provided with this formidable weapon, 
appears from the following incident, mentioned by 
the same traveller as having taken place near Doo- 
froo : — " We had no sooner unloaded the asses, 
than some of the people, being in search of honey, 
unfortunately disturbed a large swarm of bees. They 
came out in immense numbers, and attacked men 
and beasts at the same time. Luckily most of the 
asses were loose, and galloped up the valley ; but the 
horses and people were very much stung, and obliged 
to scamper oiF in all directions. In fact, for half an 
hour, the bees seemed completely to have put an end 
to our journey. In the evening, when they became 
less troublesome, and we could venture to collect our 
cattle, we found many of them much stung and 
swelled about the head. Three asses were missing ; 
one died in the evening, and one next morning. Our 
* Parks Travels in Africa, vol. i. p. G. 



276 FOREIGN BEES. 

guide lost his horse, and many of the people were 
much stuns; ahout the hands and face." On the 
eastern side of the same continent, the bees appear 
to resemble those of the western coast in their colour 
and diminutive size, but differ from them in the mode 
of constructing their nests, which are formed under 
the surface of the ground, while those of the others 
are lodged in the hollows of trees. To the south- 
ward, and in the Hottentot countries, the insects are 
found in great numbers ; but, as appears from the 
reports of some late travellers, never build their nests 
in the trunks of trees ; and though they are some- 
times found nestling under the surface of the ground, 
make their dwellings chiefly in the clefts of the 
rocks ; and one la,rge rock in the Cape Colony has 
so long served as a favourite residence to these in- 
sects, as to obtain from the Dutch settlers the name 
of " Honing Kliss," i. e. Honey-rock. The following 
anecdotes relating to this species are from Burchell's 
Travels in Africa, (Vol. I. 377, and H. 81) :—" My 
bedding having been left out in the air all day, we 
found in the evening the mattress taken possession 
of by a swarm of bees which had taken shelter under 
it for the night ; and as a favour to these industrious 
creatures, we left them undisturbed. They remained 
there till the next day at noon, when they departed 
in quest of some convenient chink in the rocks for 
their hive. Their manner of swarming appeared to 
us to differ in nothing from that of the common 
English bee. The same species, or others of the 
genus Apis, abounds in every part of this continent 



FOREIGN BEES. 277 

which has come under my observation, and is every- 
where eagerly robbed of its honey. None of these 
nations have the least idea of bringing them under 
domestic management, but are content to take the 
honey wherever it is found; and this being done 
often at an improper season, they make a useless 
destruction of the larv£e or young bees still in the 
cells/' — " One of the Hottentots observed a number 
of bees entering a hole in the ground, which had 
formerly belonged to some animal of the weasel kind. 
As he made signs for us to come to him, we turned 
that way, fearing he had met with some accident ; 
and when the people began to unearth the bees, I 
did not expect that we should escape ^vithout being 
severely stuiig. But they knew so well how to 
manage an affair of this kind, that they robbed the 
poor insects with the greatest ease and safety. 
Before they commenced digging, a fire was made 
near the hole, and constantly supplied with damp 
fuel to produce a cloud of smoke. In this the work- 
man was completely enveloped ; so that the bees re- 
turning from the fields were prevented from ap- 
proaching, and those which flew out of the nest were 
driven by it to a distance. Yet the rest of our party, 
to avoid their resentment, found it prudent either to 
ride oif, or stand also in the smoke. About three 
pounds of honey were obtained, which, excepting a 
small share which I reserved till tea-time, they in- 
stantly devoured in the comb ; and some of the 
Hottentots professed to be equally fond of the larvae. 
The honey appeared unusually liquid, and nearly as 



278 FOREIGN BEES. 

thin as water, yet it seemed as sweet, and of as 
delicate a taste as the best honey of England." 

'*' Whilst I was engaged in the chace one day on 
foot with a Namaqua attendant, he picked up a 
small stone, looked at it earnestly, then over the 
plain, and threw it down again. I asked what it 
was ; he said there was the mark of a bee on it ; 
taking it up, I also saw on it a small pointed drop 
of wax,* which had fallen from a bee in its flight. 
The Namaqua noticed the direction the point of the 
drop indicated, and, walking on, he picked up an- 
other stone, also with a drop of wax on it, and so 
on at considerable intervals, till, getting behind a 
crag, he looked up, and bees were seen flying across 
the sky, and in and out of a cleft in the face of the 
rock. Here of course was the honey he was in pur- 
suit of. A dry bush is selected, fire is made, the 
cliff is ascended, and the nest is robbed in the smoke."t 

African travellers give us an amusing account of 
one of the modes by which the natives in the interior 
are enabled to discover the spot where the bees have 
deposited their treasures. They are guided by a 
small bird {Cuculus Indicus, See Plate XXV.) of a 
brownish -grey colour, well named the Honey -Guide. 
This little creature is very fond of honey and bee- 
brood ; but unable by its own exertions to secure 
the means of gratifying its taste, it directs the negroes, 
by a peculiar cry or whistle, to the tree where the 
bees have taken up their residence, advancing before 

* More probably excrement. 

■j- Alexander's Expedition into the Interior of Africa. 



FOREIGN BEES. 2Ti> 

them "by longer or shorter flights, according to the 
greater or lesser distance of the object of pursuit. 
If its followers lag behind, it returns with manifest 
impatience, and by its redoubled cries appears to 
chide their delay. As it approaches the tree, its 
flights become more limited, its whistle is repeated 
at shorter intervals, and at last, having brought its 
associates to the desired spot, it hovers over it for a 
moment, as if to mark it out distinctly, and then 
quietly takes up a station at a little distance, wait- 
ing the result, and expecting its share of the booty, 
which it never fails to obtain. 

In the island of Madagascar, and the Mauritius, 
is to be found the Apis Unicolor of Latreille, of a 
bright shining black, without spots or coloured bands. 
Its honey, as appears from a specimen brought home 
by the master of a French vessel, is highly aromatic, 
and is, while in the cells, or when recently abstracted, 
of a green colour, but becomes afterwards of a red- 
dish yellow. In these islands, the bee is domesti- 
cated ; and a French Naturalist, M. de Lanux, has 
published a memoir on the form of the Madagascar 
hives — a circumstance which naturally leads to the 
supposition, that the inhabitants pay considerable at- 
tention to the cultivation of this insect.* 

Knox, in his history of Ceylon, enumerates three 
kinds of bees found in that island ; the first of which 
bears a close resemblance to the European insect, 
though, it would seem, by no means so irritable, and 
which, like those near the Cape of Good Hope, builds 
* Latreille, Obs, de Zool. au voyage de Humboldt, 



280 FOREIGN BEES. 

in hollow trees, and also in holes in the ground which 
have been made by some burrowing animals. The 
natives,, to obtain the honey, have merely to blow into 
those holes, upon which the bees instantly decamp 
without resistance, and the plunderers, without making 
use of any defensive covering, pull out the combs 
with their hands, and deposit them in vessels brought 
for that purpose. It is probable from this account of 
the facility with which this species is deprived of its 
stores, and the fearlessness of the plunderers, that, like 
others to be afterwards mentioned, it has no sting. 
A second species found here is of a larger size and 
brighter colour than our domestic bee. These build 
their nests on the branches of trees, and generally at 
a great height. At a certain period of the year the 
inhabitants of the towns go out in a body to despoil 
them, and return laden with the booty. The third 
species is a remarkably small bee, not larger than a 
common fly, and of a blackish hue. Their honey is 
not generally much regarded ; but the children some- 
times amuse themselves by cutting a hole in the trunk 
of the tree where it is deposited, and carrying it off. 
Nay, Knox tells us that the inhabitants not only 
devour the honey, but have a strong taste — akin to 
that of the Hottentots who feed on the larvae — for the 
bees themselves ; and that when they discover a 
swarm on an inaccessible branch of a tree, they 
stupify them with the smoke of torches, causing them 
to drop on the ground, when they gather them and 
carry them home, ^' boiling and eating them, and 
esteeming them excellent food." 



FOREIGN BEES. 281 

The Apis Indica of Fabricius, found in Pondicherry 
and Bengal, is of a smaller size than our domestic 
bee, if we may judge from the dimensions of the 
cells, which are onlv about three-fifths of the size of 
the European, This is probably the small species 
found in Ceylon. Latreille gives a figure and descrip- 
tion of a piece of comb supposed to belong to this 
species ; and taking into account the smallness of tlie 
cells, and the consequently greater number in a comb 
of the same area with one from our hives, he con- 
cludes the population of the Indian hive to consist 
of not less than 80^000 insects. Besides the Apis 
Indica, the naturalist just mentioned notices two 
other species met with in that region, one of which 
is one-third longer and stronger than the European 
race. This may be the same species with the second 
class described by Knox, as inhabiting Ceylon. The 
honey cells are much more capacious, and the produce 
considerably more abundant than from the last men- 
tioned Indian species. 

Honey-bees abound also in the whole of the 
Eastern Archipelago ; but we have no certain account 
of their distinctive characters. We only know that 
they generally build on the boughs of trees, and that 
they are never domesticated or collected into hives. 
In fact, no attention is paid to them, farther than 
what is requisite to obtain their wax. This, we are 
told," is an article of considerable importance in all 
the eastern islands, from whence it is exported in large 
oblong cakes to China, Bengal, and other parts of 
* Marsden's Sumatra, p. 175. 



282 FOREIGN BEES. 

the continent. Their honey is much inferior to that 
of Europe, as might be expected from the nature of 
the vegetation. The honey of the Apis Peronii, 
however, found in the island of Timor, may be con- 
sidered an exception to this. For our knowledge of 
it we are indebted to M. Peron, the intrepid French 
navigator, who describes it as having a yellowish tinge, 
more liquid than ours, and of an exquisite flavour. 
It is called by the natives Bee-sugar. The dis- 
tinctive characters of the insect itself consist in 
the two first rings of the abdomen (with the excep- 
tion of their posterior edges,) the base of the third, 
and the greater part of the breast, being of a reddish 
yellow, and the superior wings of a brownish hue. 
It appears from recent accounts, that in the distant 
regions of New South Wales and Van Dieman's 
Land, besides the indigenous insect, the Bee of 
Europe has obtained a firm footing, and already rivals 
the prolific race of South Carolina. The following 
account is from a periodical of extensive circulation 
and great utility.* 

" The native bee is without a sting, and is not 
much larger than a common house-fly. It produces 
abundance of honey and wax, but has not yet been 
subjected to cultivation ; and from its small size, and 
its building on very high trees, probably never will 
be so. The European Bee has been oftener than 
once introduced into Sydney, but without success ; 
the swarms having always left the hives for the 
woods. A hive was carried to Van Dieman's Land, 
* Loudon's Gardener's Magazine, for Dec. 1835. 



FOREIGX BEES. 283 

in the autumn of the year 1830, by Dr. T. B. Wil- 
son, at the suggestion of his friend Mr. R. Gunter of 
Earl's Court, brought from London in a wire case. 
It arrived in safety, and the bees swarmed several 
times the first year ; and in the True Colonist (a 
Hobart-Town newspaper) of February 14th 1835, 
it is stated that a hive descended from Dr. Wilson's, 
belonGfinfj to a srentleman in the nei<jhbourhood of 
Hobart-Town, had already swarmed eighteen times!" 
Major Mitchell states, in his recently published 
account of his expedition into the interior of Australia, 
that he sometimes met with bees in great plenty, and 
some of them were not a little curious in their habits. 
Although his rifle was in frequent use, he one day 
found that a quantity of wax and honey had been 
deposited in the barrel, and also in the hollow part 
of the ramrod ! He had previously noticed a bee 
occasionally entering the barrel, and it now appeared 
that wax and honey had been lodged immediately 
above the charge to the depth of about two inches. 
The bee which he most frequently observed about 
his tent, and which was probably the species that 
selected this perilous depository, was as large as the 
English bee, and had a sting. " We were now," he 
says, in another part of his interesting work, '^ in a 
' land flowing with milk and honey ;' for the natives 
with their new tomahawks extracted it in abundance 
from the hollow branches of the trees, and it seemed 
that, in the season, they could find it almost every- 
where. To such inexpert clowns, as they probably 



284 FOREIGN BEES. 

thought uSj the honey and the bees were inaccessible, 
and indeed invisible, save only when the natives cut 
it out and brought it to us in little sheets of bark, 
thus displaying a degree of ingenuity and skill in 
supplying their wants, which we, Avith all our science, 
could not hope to attain. They would catch one of 
the bees and attach to it, with some rosin or gum, 
the light down of the swan or owl ; thus laden, the 
bee would make for the branch of some lofty tree, 
and so betray its home of sweets to its keen-eyed 
pui^uers, whose bee-chase presented indeed a laugh- 
able scene."* 

In the Western Hemisphere we find the honey- 
bee in as great variety and abundance as in the 
Eastern World. In the United States of America, 
and stretching as far to the westward, as 95 deg. W. 
long, the domestic bee of Europe has been naturalized, 
and appears to prosper amazingly, in the new coun- 
tries continually opening to civilization in that region. 
Little more than thirty years ago, according to War- 
den, it was not found to the westward of the Missis- 
sippi ; but is now spreading over the extensive 
prairies on the western banks of the Missouri. In 
these regions, bee-hunting, or bee-liming, as it is there 
called, is a very general occupation ; and various 
modes are described by travellers of obtaining the 
fruit of the insects' labour. Knowing that in the 
breeding season, the bees resort much to springs of 
water in the woods, the hunter places on a fiat stone 
* Vol. i. p. 171. 



FOREIGN EEES. 285 

a small quantity of honey-comb, and draws romid it 
a circle of white paint. The bee, on approaching the 
honey, is necessitated generally to cross the circular 
line, and, of course, its body becomes bedaubed with 
the colouring matter, and the direction of its route 
when flying is thereby easily ascertained. The stra- 
tagem is repeated at some distance to the right or 
left of the first station, and the direction of the flight 
again marked. As the bee always flies in a direct 
line to her nest, it will be found where the two lines 
of flight intersect each other. Another mode con- 
sists in placing at the favourite resorts of the bees, a 
piece of reed or tube of some kind, having one of its 
ends closed up ; Into this they are enticed by the 
smell of a little honey, previously deposited within. 
The hunter, when a sufficient number has entered, 
seizes the reed, and claps his thumb on the open end. 
He then allows one of the captives to escape, and fol- 
lows the direction in which it flies ; Avhen it is out of 
sight, he releases another, and another in succession, 
continuing the pursuit till, by the aid of these guides, 
he reaches the prize. 

The bee in North America has to encounter, 
amongst the feathered tribe, an enemy still more 
formidable than the honey-hunter. This is the King- 
bird, or Tyrant Flycatcher, (Muscicapa Tyrannus, 
PL XXVI.) found in both the southern and northern 
states of the Union, and which, according to Mr. 
Hector St. John, is so fell an enemy to the honey- 
gathering tribes, that upon dissecting one which he 
had shot, he took from its crop as many as 171 



286 FOREIGN BEES. 

apparently dead bees.* '' During the breeding 
season/' says Wilson in his American Ornithology, 
" his extreme alfection for his mate, and for his 
nest and young, makes him suspicious of every bird 
that happens to pass near his residence, so that he 
attacks without discrimination every intruder. But 
he has a vrorse habit than this, and much more 
obnoxious to the husbandman, and often more fatal 
to himself. He loves not the honey y but the hees ; 
and, it must be confessed, is frequently on the look- 
out for these industrious little insects. He plants 
himself on a post of the fence, or on a small tree in 
the garden, not far from the hives ; and from thence 
sallies on them as they pass and repass, making 
great havoc among their numbers." The ravages of 
this little tyrant are not confined to the bee species ; 
he is to be seen often " in pasture fields, taking his 
stand on the top of rank weeds near the cattle, and 
making occasional sweeps after passing insects, par- 
ticularly the large black gad-fly. His eye moves 
restlessly around him, traces the flight of an insect 
for a moment or two, then that of a second, and even 
a third, until he perceives one to his liking, when 
with a shrill sweep he pursues, seizes it, and returns 
to the same spot to look out for more. This habit 
is so conspicuous, when he is watching the bee-hives, 
that several intelligent farmers of my acquaintance 

* Mr. St. John laid these dead bees on a blanket in the 
sun, and, mirabile diclu ! out of the 171, no fewer than 54 re- 
turned to life, licked themselves clean, and joyfully went back 
to their hives. 



FOREIGN BEES. 287 

are of opinion, that he picks out only the drones, 
and never injures the working-bees. Be that as it 
may, he certainly gives a preference to one bee, and 
one species of insect over another." 

Advancing southwards, we fall in with the bees 
of Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, &c. If Latreille be 
correct — and we are disposed to think he is — these 
are still of the European species ; for he tells us, that 
they extend from the northern States as far south as 
the Antilles. In the rich provinces above named, 
bees are reported to increase with such rapidity, that 
nothing but the most satisfactory proofs can entitle 
the report to credit. A striking instance of this 
rapid increase is given in Feburier's Treatise on 
Bees. M. Bozc, the French Consul in Carolina, 
walking one morning in the woods adjoining his 
house, found a swarm of bees which the negroes had 
just deprived of its honey and wax. He succeeded 
in getting it to enter his hat, brought it home, and 
put it into a hive. By the end of autumn, it had 
yielded eleven swarms, and these had, one with an- 
other, produced as many more ; so that at the end 
of the year he had twenty-two ! besides losing several 
for want of hives to lodge them. 

In the island of Cuba, their multiplication is said 
to be still more extraordinary; so much so, that 
though they have not existed there above seventy 
years, thousands of swarms perish yearly from not 
finding suitable places to settle in. They were intro- 
duced into this island in 1763, by some emigrants 
from Florida ; and such was the rapidity with which 



288 FOREIGN BEES. 

they multiplied in the hollows of the old trees, that 
there was soon sufficient wax for the annual con- 
sumption. In 1 777, fourteen years from their intro- 
duction, 715,000 lbs. weight of wax were exported 
from the Havannah, of a quality equal to the wax of 
Venice. Including the contraband, Cuba exported 
in ] 803, 42,6'70 arobas of wax, equal to more than 
1900 tons. The price was then from twenty to 
twenty-one piastres per aroba ; but the average price 
in time of peace is only fifteen piastres, or £3, 2s. 6d. 
sterling. A small part of this wax is produced by 
the wild bees of the genus Trigones, which occupy 
the trunks of the Cedrela odorata ; but the prin- 
cipal part is the produce of the common honey-bee,* 
originally imported from the old world to America 
— extended to the Southern States, and finally trans- 
ferred to Cuba by the settlers from Florida. t 

In Jamaica, bees are cultivated to some extent, 

* Edinburgh Eneyclop. article Cuba. 

•\ M. Feburier states, in a note, that M. Michaux, a French 
botanist, had been informed by the natives of Florida, that 
bees formerly abounded in that province •, but that in one year 
they had almost all emigrated to Cuba, which is distant twenty- 
five leagues. Upon this, M. Feburier remarks: — " As that 
island is covered with orange and lemon trees, the fragrance of 
the blossoms must have been wafted to Florida, and have at- 
tracted the bees ; a strong evidence of the acuteness of their 
sense of smell." We should say, that their strength of wing 
must have equalled their sense of smell. But the truth is, M. 
Michaux had been misinformed ; for it is a well known fact, 
that, as we have already stated, when the British obtained 
possession of Florida, at the peace in 1763, many of the settlers 
removed to Cuba, and carried their bees along with them. 



FOREIGN EEES. 289 

occasionally by the planters, but more generally by 
the negroes and people of colour. The honey is dark- 
coloured, and of a flayour hardly so agreeable as our 
oTvn. The hives they use are small square boxes of 
one story. In size and colour the Jamaica bee feo 
strongly resembles the European, as to suggest the 
probability that it is the same. The only circum- 
stance known to us that raises any doubt of this 
identity is, that though it possesses a sting, it seldom 
uses it, and is apparently of a much less irritable 
temper than ours. As a proof of this greater gentle- 
ness, the apiary is, in many cases, situated directly in 
front of the dy/elling-house ; and an instance has 
come to our kno^yledge of one consisting of not 
fewer than fifty hives, belonging to a gentleman 
in the neighbourhood of Savannah-la-Mar, ranged 
close by the door, and under the front windows. Were 
the exotic insect as testy as ours, visiters would require 
some nerve to face coolly so formidable an outpost. 
The same gentleman has on his estate a row of log- 
wood trees, the blossoms of which are much resorted 
to by the bees. Whether there is any species of the 
insect in this island without stings, we have not been 
able to ascertain precisely ; it seems probable, hov/- 
evcr, there is not. A resident medical gentleman, to 
whom the query was put, had never heard of such ; 
aad an intelligent negro, who kept a large stock of 
hives, when asked whether the Jamaica bees had 
stings, seemed surprised at the question, and an- 
sv/ered : ^' Hey ! hab tings ? dem ting too trong ! dcni 
hab bi": bi"r ting." The same neirro observed that he 



290 FOREIGN BEE&. 

had often seen "the leetle chaps collaring the \ng 
chaps;" evidently alluding to the massacre of the 
drones hy the working-bees.* 

The bees of Guadaloupe are decidedly of a diffe- 
rent character from the European, and are probably 
of the genus Melipona. This constitutes, according 
to the system of llliger and Latreille, a genus dis- 
tinct from the genus Apis properly so called. In 
this last, the first articulation of the hinder tarsi is 
square-shaped^ while in those of the other it is tri^ 
angular. From some minute variation of anatomical 
structure, a portion of the genus Melipona has been 
formed into a distinct one, under the denomination 
of Trigones. Latreille specifies the mandibles as a 
distinctive character, and classes under the genus 
Trigones those whose mandibles are toothed, and 
under that of Melipona, such as have these organs 
smooth. Their habits also differ ; the former build- 
ing their nest in the open air, suspended from the 
branches of trees; the latter constructing their 

* Since writing the above, the author has received a swarm 
of Bees from Jamaica, which unfortunately died on the 
passage. Upon the most minute examination, no difference 
could be perceived between these strangers and our own 
home-bred insects, either in the class of Workers or Males ; 
the Queen could not be foimd. It must be observed, how- 
ever, that besides this, which we consider identical with the 
domestic bee of Northern Europe, there is another species 
cultivated in Jamaica of a small black kind, of the habits of 
which we are not aware. In one of the combs of the above 
imported hive, was found the larva represented in PI. VIII. 
with the moth into which it was metamorphosed. 



FOREIGN BEES. 291 

habitations in the cavities of the trunks. The bees of 
Guadaloupe, however, are sometimes found making 
their dwellings in clefts of the rocks, as well as in 
the hollows of trees. Their honey is deposited in 
clusters of cells, or rather cups, which are of the size 
and shape of pigeon-eggs ; and the wax of which 
they are formed, is of a deep violet colour, and of so 
soft a consistence, as materially to diminish its utility. 
The insect itself is distinguished by its diminutive 
size, its jet-black colour, and its want of a sting. 

The bees of Guiana are generally small, and of a 
deep black colour like those of Guadaloupe, but 
armed with a powerful sting. Labat,* however, 
speaks of a species which have no sting, or one so 
feeble, that it cannot pierce the skin ; and states, 
that the natives handle them without dread, and 
without any other inconvenience than a slight tickling. 
There is a species noticed by Stedman, which builds 
its nest in the roofs of houses, and is said to attack 
strangers with the greatest fury, while it does not at 
all molest the regular occupiers of the habitation 
where it has established its residence. Another 
species takes up its abode in the trunks of decayed 
trees ; and if the hollow space is too large for their 
purpose, they contract it by raising above a kind of 
waxen dome. Their honey is of the colour of amber, 
and of an agreeable flavour, but becomes quickly 
acid. The wax is like that of Guadaloupe, of a 
dark violet colour, never hardens, and cannot be 

* V^oyage du Chevalier des Maxchais .1 Cayenne, vol. iii. 253. 



292 FOREIGN BEES. 

blanched. The species named Trigonis Amalthea, 
(PI. XX VII. fig. 1.) is also found here. It con- 
structs its nest of a form somewhat resembling a 
Bagpipe, eight or ten inches in diameter, and eighteen 
or twenty inches in length, towards the top of a tree 
of moderate height. (PL XXVII.) Within are found 
large cells filled with a fine reddish-coloured honey. 
The nest which, on a superficial view, might be 
mistaken for a mass of coarse earth applied when 
moist against the tree, cannot be procured until the 
tree is cut down, when the natives, after using the 
honey, and making a kind of mead, convert the wax 
into matches. 

In Brazil, there are many species of bees described 
by travellers, — doubtless including in the number 
those last noticed as inhabiting Guiana. One or two, 
however, may be mentioned, which differ in some 
degree from those alluded to. The first is a species 
■surpassing all the others in size, without a sting, and 
building in the hollows of trees. Another is de- 
scribed as of a yellowish hue, and of a small size, 
and having their nests suspended from the branches, 
sometimes half an ell in length. Koster* notices a 
species inhabiting the trunks of trees, of a black 
colour, and smaller than the European ; their sting 
not formidable. The natives of Pernambuco pre- 
serve them in a part of the trunk of the tree in 
which they had been originally found. Their honey 
is very liquid, and is used as medicine rather than as 
food; for the small quantities obtained render the 
* Travels in Brazil, by Henry Koster, in 1810. 



FOREIGN BEES. 293 

demand for it by medical men fully equal to the 
supply. Another species have their nests in the 
ground, enveloped like a sugar-loaf in a wrapper 
formed of a kind of matted fog. This is perhaps 
the insect met with by Humboldt;, while exploring 
the Silla mountain in the province of Caraccas. It 
is described as a little smaller than the honey-bee of 
Europe, and as making its nest in the ground. It 
seldom flies, moves slowly, and is not apt to use its 
sting. Amongst the flowers in these regions to 
which the bees resort, is one which grows on the 
Tapurriba tree, and which communicates to the 
honey a peculiar bitterness. 

In Paraguay, several species of bees are enume- 
rated by Don Felix d'Azara, the largest of which he 
describes as more than double the size of the bee of 
Old Spain ; and the smallest as less than a fourth of 
the size. Few of them, it is said, have stings ; but 
we are disposed to think, with Latreille, that on this 
part of the organization of exotic bees generally, our 
information is of doubtful accuracy ; and suspect that 
many of the species which are said to be without 
stings, do in fact possess the organ, though often a 
feeble one, but are not readily provoked to use it. 
The honey of the large bee described by Azara is not 
considered good ; that of another species produces 
intoxication ; and that of a third causes violent pains 
and convulsions which continue for thirty hours, 
without, however, leaving behind any farther bad 
consequences. The country people readily detect this 
unwholesome kind of honey, although the taste is as 



294 FOREIGN BEES. 

agreeable as that of the others^i and the colour the 
same. Like the generality of the Melipona trib^, 
some species deposit their honey not in combs^ but 
in small waxen vessels or cups^ resembling, from the 
description, those constructed by the humble bees of 
Europe, and about half an inch in diameter. The 
native Indians use it much as food, and after subjec- 
ting it to the process of fermentation, procure from it 
an intoxicating drink. The wax is of a deeper yellow, 
and of a softer consistence than ours. It is never 
whitened, but used in its rude state for lighting the 
country churches. It is found in such abundance in 
the woods that the inhabitants of St. Jago del Estero 
collect yearly in their neighbourhood not less than 
14,000 ibs. weight. 

It may be noticed here that the inhabitants of 
Paraguay find a species of wax on the branches 
of the Guabirami. This is a shrub two or three 
feet high, which produces one of the finest fruits 
in the country. The wax forms the nests of some 
small insects, constructed on the branches of the 
plant j and these tiny dwelling-places are in shape 
and size like so many pearls, glued together in 
strings or clusters. The substance itself is much 
superior to the wax of any of the bees above de- 
scribed as inhabiting the province, both in solidity 
and whiteness. 

One other species is mentioned by Azara as 
found in Paraguay — and is probably identical with 
one found in Brazil — which suspends its nest from 
the branches of trees. It is about two feet in dia- 



FOREIGN BEES. 29'5 

meter^ and formed of a strong hard claVj having its 
crust or shell of about four inches in thickness. On 
breaking up one of these nests — an operation which 
required the aid of a hatchet — it was found com- 
posed of combs of wax filled with fine honey. The 
bee is blackish in colour,, not so taper in its shape 
as the European insect, but nearly of the same size ; 
less irritable, but possessed of a sting. 

The most remarkable entomological fact stated by 
this WTiter, is the existence in Brazil and Paraguay 
of a honey gathering Wasp I When the statement 
appeared, it was supposed by Latreille and others, 
that, not being much versed in entomology, Azara 
had mistaken for an individual of the wasp family 
what was in reality one of the Melipona or Trigonis 
genus, common in South America. More recently, 
however, the researches of M. de St. Hilaire have 
confirmed the accuracy of the Spaniard ; and it seems 
now an established fact that the insect provincially 
named Lechcguana, belonging to the genus Vespa 
{Polistes of Latreille), produces honey of a very ex- 
cellent kind, which it stores up in cells for use during 
the season of the repose of vegetable life, and which 
differs from that produced by the bees onl}' in being 
wholly and completely soluble in alcohol, leaving no 
residue ; whereas bee-honey, when subjected to the 
same chemical process, deposits a crystallized saccha- 
rine matter. A figure of the nest constructed by this 
insect is given in PI. XXVIII. It is formed of the 
same materials, and is of similar architecture with 
-that of the European Wasp, viz. of woody fibres re- 



296 



FOREIGN BEES. 



duced to a pulp or paste before being used, and is 
of a conical shape. The insect produces no wax. 

We shall conclude this imperfect notice of Foreign 
Bees with some account of those of Mexico,, con- 
cerning which more is known than of any others 
out of Europe. Great attention is paid to them by 
the Mexicans, not so much on account of their 
honey, although remarkably rich and delicate, as for 
the sake of the wax, of which great quantities are 
consumed in the ceremonies of the Roman Catholic 
worship. In the peninsula of Yucatan, there are 
colonies of them domesticated, consisting of five or 
six hundred hives. Many interesting particulars of 
their natural history have been furnished by Her- 
nandez in his account of New Spain ; and subse- 
quently by our countrymen Captains Beechey and 
Hall, particularly by the first named officer, who 
has gone into a minuteness of detail, which would 
have done credit to one who had made the subject 
of bees his exclusive study. Hernandez describes 
several kinds of the insect in Mexico : — one resem- 
bling the European, and which produces a honey like 
our own. It is domesticated by the Indians, who 
lodge the swarms, he says, in the hollows of trees. 
A second species is noticed by the same Author, as 
smaller than ours — so much smaller as to resemble 
" winged ants," — and as without stings. They 
build their nests, which are composed of several 
layers, probably resembling those of wasps, in the 
rocks, and also suspend them on trees, particularly 
the oak. Their honey is dark coloured and high 



FOREIGN BEES. 207 

flavoured. The cells are of smaller dimensions than 
those of the domestic bee ; and it is probable, though 
not so stated, contain only brood ; the honey being 
found in small cups or sacklets. The larvae, it ap- 
pears, are esteemed a delicacy; for the historian 
tells us, that " when roasted and seasoned with salt," 
they have the taste and flavour of sweet almonds. 
This species collect their honey stores, and live much 
in the same way with the honey-bees of Europe. 
Other small stingless bees are mentioned, which 
establish themselves under ground, in nests of a 
globular shape, but of very coarse workmanship ; 
their honey, too, is inferior, and is never used but in 
default of better. We have given a figure of a Mexi- 
can Bee-Nest, constructed by insects of the genus 
Trigones, copied from Latreille, (PI. XXVII.) 

It is probably of the species first mentioned by 
Hernandez, that Captains Beechey and Hall have 
given us the details. In domesticating their bees, 
the Mexicans lodge them in hives formed of short 
logs of wood, from 2 to 3 feet long, hollowed out 
about 5 inches in diameter, having the ends filled 
with clay, or wooden doors removeable at pleasure ; 
and a hole for entrance bored on one side, about 
halfway between the ends. They are suspended m 
a horizontal position from the branches of trees, or 
from the cottage eaves.* The hive which Captain 
Hall examined was made of earthen ware, orna- 
mented with raised figures and circular rings^ and 
was hung in the virandah of a dwelling house. The 

* A hive of this kind was sent to the celebrated Huber. 



29^ FOREIGN BEES. 

interior of a hive presents, like that of the humble- 
bee in our own country, a confused and irregular 
appearance. The combs, which have but one series 
of cells, are placed, some in a vertical position, and 
others horizontal — the latter, superior to the other 
in regularity of form, and of distance from one 
another. They are grouped together in an oval 
mass, and occupy nearly half of the internal space, 
while the other half is stored with the honey cups. 
The cells which are destined solely for the rearing 
of the brood are, like ours, hexangular, though the 
angles are not so sharply defined, nor is the mouth 
of the cell strengthened by an additional ring of 
wax. The diameter is the same with that of ours, 
but the depth less by one-fifth. It is singular that 
the young bees are found in the cells with their hinder 
parts directed towards the mouth ; in being hatched, 
they will of course, make their exit through th« 
bottom, not having the impediment to encounter 
there which would obstruct the issue of the Eu- 
ropean bee. The honey, as has been stated, is 
deposited in small globular bags, hung round the 
sides of the hive, or placed at the bottom ; some of 
these receptacles are more than 1 J inch in diameter; 
and in many instances are so connected together that, 
as in the case of cells of common honey combs, one 
side serves for two cups, thus combining economy 
and strength. And these magazines of honey being 
altogether apart from the brood-combs, and noways 
connected with them, great facility is afforded in 
depriving the bees of their stores. The honey is 



FOREIGN BEES. 299 

thin in consistence, but of a very agreeable flavour, 
and gives out a rich aromatic perfume. The wax 
is coarse, and of a brownish yellow ; propolis does 
not appear to be used. 

The Mexican Bee is smaller by one-fifth than the 
European, and exhibits that diiference in the anatomi- 
cal structure of the posterior tarsi, already noticed, 
(page 290) and also in the cubital cells of the upper 
wings, which has been thought a sufficient reason for 
regarding the Mexican species — and indeed the South 
American species generally — as distinct from that of 
Europe, and to which has been given the denomina- 
tion Melipona or Trigona. Many of these species 
are, as we have seen, described as having no stings, 
or at least so feeble a weapon as to produce no sen- 
sible injury, and from this circumstance they are 
known in the Spanish Colonies by the name of 
Angelitos, or little angels. The population of a 
hive is generally under a 1000. Like their congeners 
in Europe, they have enemies to guard against; and 
the Black Ants occasionally put their vigilance and 
prowess to the proof, sometimes successfully, but 
more frequently coming off with the worst. One of 
the community, accordingly, is constantly stationed 
as a sentinel at the mouth of the hive — keeping her 
post unrelieved for a whole day ; and as the entrance 
is wide enough only for the admission of one bee 
at a time, the sentinel has to withdraw into a small 
cavity formed ^\'ithin the threshold, as often as a 
bee enters or leaves the hive. Captain Hall remarks 



300 FOREIGN BEES. 

that " the office is no sinecure." Fortunately for 
the insect on duty, the population is small ; were it 
equal to that of a European hive, the task would 
be harder by twenty-fold. Like the domestic bee, 
they are fond of keeping their premises clear of all 
extraneous and offensive matter. A little paint was 
dropped at the entrance of a hive; the sentinel 
carefully examined it, seemed to dislike it, and re- 
treated into the hive. In a few seconds it returned 
with a troop of companions, each loaded with a por- 
tion of wax, — probably a scale in a half liquid state ; 
— this they deposited on the soiled spot, repeating 
the operation till it was entirely covered, and the 
nuisance abated. (The interior of the hive of this 
bee is represented on PI. XXII.) 

We omitted to notice in their proper places, while 
enumerating the enemies of Exotic Bees, the Ratel 
and the European Bee-Eater, represented in Plates 
XXIX and XXX. The Ratel ( Viverra mellivora, 
(M. rattellus of Fred. Cuv.) is an almost inseparable 
companion of the Honey-Guide, (Indicator major) 
in its exploratory excursions. It is an animal found 
near the Cape of Good Hope, and assisted by the 
above-named bird, this creature discovers and suc- 
cessfully attacks the bees in their subterraneous re- 
treats; and after having appropriated the honied 
stores as its own peculiar prize, leaves to its assistant 
the combs filled with brood, which is said to be the 
part of the plunder most valued by the bird. Both 
of the plunderers are protected from the stings of 



FOREIGN BEES. 301 

the irritated insects by a peculiarly tough skin.* 
The European Bee-Eater (Merops ajnaster) is an 
elegant bird, and clothed in brilliant colours, but with 
a stridulous and some^^hat disagreeable cry. It 
feeds on insects, especially bees, wasps, hornets, 
&c., and also on the smaller tribes of gnats and tiies. 
It inhabits the warmer parts of Europe, South Africa, 
and is seldom met with in the northern regions of 
the globe; while it abounds in Southern Russia, par- 
ticularly about the rivers Don and Wolga, whose 
banks are sometimes perforated to a great extent by 
their excavations. t 

* Kirby's Bridgewater Treatise. 

-|- Ediil'urgh Encyclopaedia, Article Ornithology. 



FIXIS. 



EDINBt'RGH : PRINTED BY T. CONSTABLE, 
PRINTER TO HER MAJESTY, 



i^ ^^' 




1 Male. 



IIonei/-be&. 

Z. Que.'in.. 



■1 Worker 



aHH 



Fia I. 



PLATE 2 





Ilff. 




Fuj. 4. 



ANATOMICAL STRIfCTt'RE OF THE BEE 
/' Copied frovi Huber.l 



i 



Tin. 1 



PLATE 3. 




ANATOMICAL STRUCTURE OF THE BEE. 
dA Worker m/r/jnitiM. shewing thr posltum M'the scales of war. under the srtjmcnls of//u'Jbdt>men 
4.Ahdomenoi'Wo/kei. .^qfMaIfJ).of0iem. 



i 




OVARIUM OF THE QXTEEN-BEE 



I 



PLATE 5 




VIEW OF TilE INTERIOR OF A JICBFR. HIVE 

Fotir dai/s after the in.tr odtic don of a Swarm. 



1 



PLATE 5 




VIEW OF THE INTERIOR OF A HUBER HIVE 

FolU' days after the uztrodii<:tion of a Swamu 



i 



PLATE 6 




' BTBUCTirPvE 3F THE DIFFERENT CLASSES OF CELLS. WITH THE QUEEN OR ROYAT CELL 
) lie I' Luars sc 



i 







^^, 
^■^ 






PLATE S 



I10.2 




Th7-3. 




fuf 4 




l.Clefiu\.ipuu,a:> Z.Tinea Mellonella. 
S.^aUen/ qftke. larva,. 4.Eumble bees supporting apiece of comb. 



Il^.J. 




Fuf.2. 



PLATE 10 




Fi^.3. 



Fu/. 4. 





Fig. 5. 





STEAM HIVES. 



C 





1 


/ 


c 


d 


e 




a 

i 


h 


a] 






_ 



Iu,.J. 
C 



r- 



Ti^.4 




7,^.5. 







MX DITNBARS EXPERIMEJ^TAX. HIVK 



PLATE 13. 



li^.J. 





Tig. 3. 



iiiiiii 






ikj 



^ 



J. Jfon£i/ Dral/iej'. 2 Fumu/iUin^ Fipe. 3. Feedi/i^ Trm^/i. 



PLATE 14 







Conurwti SuTnble -bee,. 
f£. tej-restris) 




.■?. Moss o?- Crird/T bee.(B.f/7/t.vronan.j 



Zizms 




1. Donovans ffumhle-bee. f£. Donovanellus.J 
2 Greatlfumile-bee, of Valparaiso. fBffrandisj 



J.O.VestiroadtUi'. 



PLATE 18. 




J^.O West^cod Jei 



^ ^IpatAiis vestnlis: 3. Jpat/uis Tycpestris. 



Zu/irs sc. 



PLATE 19 




l.Euglossa Sufimzme/isi.^. 2 J\iifflossa- a/ia.Us. 3.Ayl/7e ra/'j'uJe/.o. 



PLATE 20. 




/ /7 

2. ^rossoy. 

3. .I'ylocopa VLolace<z 



PLATE 21 




Cornice 



luars sc 



PLATE 23 




1. Xulocopa hitipiis. 

2. _JI teruiiscapcL. 



PLATE :'•) 




Apis Li0us(jr,a . 



Ziirnr.!-.! 



PLATE as 




HONEY GUIDE 



PLATK 26. 







AMERICAN TYRANT FLYCATCHER 




2. Tri^ona ajrmlthea 

2. rii/icrus. 

.3. MelLpona postica. 

4. SCUteUOyTLS. 



PLATE 28. 







\ 



., XEST OF TfcfE LECHEGUANA. 

^^ /"Polistes Ltttj 

Vlth the Insert mnonitied double its nufiiml sue. 



PLATE 30. 




EUROPEArS BEE-EATER 



if 

1 



;*.>.•;'■, ■■-.■■ ■■'■